In the middle of Edinburgh sits a volcano that overlooks the city. It has been a historic part of the city for centuries, and in 1541, King James V made sure that it would always be a feature by building a wall around it. Tourists still flock to this sight, and on any given day you can find many people taking the forty-five minute hike to its summit. I am not sure if they would all make the trek if it wasn’t for the name, Arthur’s Seat, invoking the name of the famous king who has captured the imagination of the people of Great Britain and the world.
Despite the perfect marketing name, on a nice day in Edinburgh, it is worth taking the hike to the top of the mountain. The hills are beautiful, and there are plenty of places along the way where you will want to stop and take a picture. It starts off at a pretty leisurely pace, but as soon as you get off the paved Holyrood Park’s path, it does get pretty steep, and rocky.
Despite this difficulty, it is not that hard, and the view of the city, and the Highlands of Scotland to the North are worth taking the trek to the top. I was lucky enough to get a beautiful day in the middle of April to take the hike, and though it got a little cool with the wind, it wasn’t the bad. There were also not that many other tourists on the path, but I imagine that this gets pretty bad during the summer months during the height of tourist season. I can also imagine that on May 1st, the trek becomes overrun with people, especially early in the morning.
There is a local legend about the seat on the first of May, where young maidens should hike the trail before the sunrise. If they are on the top when the sun reaches over the peak, they are supposed to take the morning dew from the grass and wash their face with it. If they do this, then they were be graced with eternal youthfulness. Even though this is a story filled with superstition, it is still one that attracts many young women every year to make sure that they partake in the ritual.
Even if you are not a young maiden, it is still worth the time to spend an afternoon or early morning on this mountain. The photo opportunities are everywhere, and it is fun to look at the various viewpoints that Arthur’s Seat has to offer. It does make you wonder why it is named after the famous king. There is nothing that makes it look like a seat for a king, and some people suspect that it was the location for the famous castle, Camelot. The more likely explanation is that King James V liked the legend so much that he decided to name the mountain in the middle of the city after him.
Whatever the reason you make it to the top, the legends, the myths, or the exercise, it is a must do if you are in Edinburgh. You will join the other people who make the hike, and spend some time looking over the vast landscape that the vantage point has to offer. Make sure that you make it there if you ever find yourself here.
Until next, thanks for reading.