Things to do | Posted 29 Mar 2012
One mile east of Edinburgh Castle stands the beautiful Arthur’s Seat, a hill that rises 823 feet above the capital city. If you’ve been enjoying a stay in Edinburgh, a climb up Arthur’s Seat could afford the finest view of the city, a taste of history and mythological lore, and even some interesting geological observation.

The hill is at the center of the 650 acre Holyrood Park, a royal sanctuary that includes glens, cliff, and lochs. The park had it start over 450 years ago during the reign of James V.

As its name indicates, over the years some people have considered Arthur’s Seat a possible candidate for the location of Camelot. If that isn’t enough to inspire literary and history enthusiasts, it’s also held that the 12th century King David I had a vision of the cross in the antlers of a stag at the base of the hill, and proceeded to found the nearby Holyrood (“Holy Cross”) Abbey. The hill is also mentioned in poems and in the travel notes of famed Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson.

Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags (cliffs at the top of one of the hill’s spurs) were formed from an extinct volcano system, making the area of interest to geology enthusiasts. Some people believe the shape of the hill makes it look like a crouching lion.

Many hill walkers enjoy the ascent up Arthur’s Seat. The easiest route is from an easterly direction and provides a view of the artificial Dunsapie Loch.

After a beautiful day of hiking in the crags and hills, enjoying the way the sunlight and clouds play on the terrain and spotting various species of birds, hill walkers can return to the comforts of the city and some of the fine Edinburgh hotels. The city currently ranks as the second most visited tourist spot in the UK, with over a million visitors a year. August is its busiest tourist season when it hosts the Edinburgh Festival, really a variety of festivals, some officially sponsored by the city and others independent.

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