Discover Edinburgh’s Wild Side


Most capital cities have a special green space somewhere near its centre and Edinburgh is no different. Yet for many visitors, the delights of Holyrood Park remain unknown, they may be oblivious to the little piece of countryside hidden just around the corner.

Situated at the eastern end of the famous Royal Mile, the park is a wild and rugged landscape of hills and crags, with a fascinating history, that rewards further exploration.

Most will head towards Arthur’s Seat, a large volcanic plug, that dominates not just the park but the whole city skyline. It might be a diminutive 251 metres in height but the steep paths, leading to the sharp rocky summit, give it a real mountainous feeling. You are rewarded with a 360° view of Edinburgh and the surrounding countryside. No two days are the same on the summit. I’ve spent one in a howling gale as grey rain-leaden clouds skid across the sky, and the very next sat in basking sunshine and short sleeves. Go prepared for a sudden change in weather conditions. Archaeological finds suggest human activity here dating back to 5,000BC. The hill’s fiery volcanic past is remembered in the legend that it is the resting place of a fierce dragon that terrorized local villages  ; snatching children and livestock as tasty morsels.

You can walk in the footsteps of industrial revolutionaries or gentlemen geologists beneath the mighty Salisbury Crags. The long diagonal footpath shooting up below the crags is the Radical Road. Its construction kept a group of rabble-rousing weavers occupied, attempting to turn their thoughts away from revolutionary uprising. Whilst one of the fathers of geology, James Hutton, saw the momentous processes that formed the landscape of Earth appear before him in the rock formations of the crags themselves.
Elsewhere, discover the park’s religious and royal links. It has been linked to the nearby Holyrood Palace, and the older Abbey, for at least a thousand years. The evocative medieval ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, perched above St Margaret’s Loch, provides a stunning photo opportunity or just the chance to clamber amongst its weathered stones. Look carefully, and you will see the remnants of a wall encircling the park, a reminder that this was a royal pleasure ground. A stone wall built on the orders of James V in the 1500’s formed an enclosure allowing the Stuart monarchs to enjoy hunting whilst staying at the adjacent palace.

There’s so much to explore within the 650 acres of the park, which is just a stone’s throw from the city-centre  - it’s worth a walk on the wild side.

Contributed by:  Andrew Baxter

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For even more about this beautiful city check out our Explore Edinburg post!


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