If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh, a hike up Arthurs Seat is a must. Towering above Edinburgh, it is an icon of this beautiful Scottish city and it will give you views you won’t soon forget. If you’re a movie buff, you may also recognize if from the Anne Hathaway movie One Day, which they hike the morning after graduation. In similar fashion, we woke early and decided to take in the sunrise views on a morning hike to the summit of Arthurs Seat.
“It’s not K2. It’s just a big hill, all right? A child could do it.” -Em, ‘One Day’
Driving & Parking
I put ‘Arthur’s Seat’ into Google maps and let it guide us there. Driving in Edinburgh is friggin scary, let me tell you. There are so many one way streets, and roundabouts, and lights. I would not necessarily recommend this for anyone unless you are a confident driver who is good under stress. Thankfully I’m married to a pretty good driver, but it was still a nerve-racking drive for both of us.
If you are visiting Scotland in the winter months, then the one-way road (part of Queens Drive) that goes over Arthur’s Seat will not be opened until after sunrise. We found some street parking at the bottom of the hill and started our hike up. The walking path next to Queen’s Drive is paved.
We passed by a quaint lake, Dunsapie Loch just as the sun was starting to rise. It was starting to get steep, and we were both finding we were breathing heavy. Suddenly I realized I forgot our water bottle in the car. Damn.
We climbed a little further and then realized that if we continued on the paved path it would lead us down the mountain. But we wanted to go up. The hillside had various trails scattered about. I didn’t know what was the ‘right one,’ as they all looked like deer trails. We could see people in the distance up high, so we picked a trail and started hiking. The sun was rising. We started scurrying up the hillside as quickly as we could, while stopping periodically to catch our breath.
This was not the easy hike I imagined. We got into the rhythm of hike a little, pause for a breath, and then panic because we were going to miss the sunrise. We finally reached a flat area that was close to the top. There were 2 other photographers with tripods, so I figured it was a good place to catch the rest of the sunrise. Thankfully, we hadn’t missed the best part.
After snapping a few pictures, we continued up to the summit of Arthurs Seat. Like before, there was no clear way up to the top. There were a dozen different choices, and at times it felt like we were just forging our own path. This was the rockiest point of the hike. Up until this point the earth was really soft and boggy. It took us less than 15 minutes before we were at the top.
Until we had reached the summit, we hadn’t see great views of Edinburgh since we were on the opposite side of the mountain from downtown. The views were incredible at the top, but the wind was pretty intense as well. We stayed up here for a few minutes then decided to climb down the side to escape the wind and enjoy our tangerines we had packed for a snack.
With shaky knees, we made our way down in good time. We encountered intense wind, rain and a beautiful rainbow on the hike down. You will want to dress warmly for this hike, as the weather can change so quickly in Scotland.
I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time. I thought an hour for parking and hiking would be enough time, but it was barely. If you are wanting to take pictures you will want to bring your tripod and make sure you give yourself at least 1.5 hours.
There is street parking and a parking lot at the bottom of the hill at: