I am sure everyone will agree that lockdown hasn’t been easy, but one positive thing which I can take away from it is discovering some beautiful local walks around Edinburgh.
I must admit that I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to get out and about for some daily exercise, which is all the more important now that I am working from home and not completing my usual daily walking commute. In an attempt to get myself back out there and walking regularly, I set myself a personal step challenge of walking 10,000 steps every day throughout May. I almost managed to meet this goal reaching 299,991 steps – so close!! I am going to try and beat that in June.
With that in mind, I have been looking for some new local routes to explore. Like many Edinburgh residents, I have made my way to the top of Arthur’s Seat many times, including a quick scramble up the Gutted Haddie route. However, I have not explored many of the other routes across Holyrood Park. A quick look on OS maps told me that there are in fact seven modest summits to reach in Holyrood Park, with Arthur’s Seat being the highest.
So last weekend, I set out to walk a route which would take me to the seven summits.
First up was Haggis Knowe, the smallest of the “hills” and with a short scramble to the top it was a great place to start. I then headed down towards St Margaret’s Loch and joined Queen’s Drive for a short time before branching off to the right and up to my second summit, Whinny Hill. After powering up the hill, I stopped for a quick break. By this time the sun was shining and the views were amazing, I was surrounded by the beautiful bright yellow gorse flowers. It was such a clear day and I could see all the way down to North Berwick.
I set off again, dropping down towards Dunsapie Loch, it was quite busy here as there are new signets on the loch any they were attracting a lot of attention! I branched left, away from the loch, looping around the back of Dunsapie Crag to reach the summit. This is such an overlooked park of the park, everyone heads for Arthur’s Seat, but Dunsapie has amazing views and there were lots of lovely sheltered spots to sit and enjoy the sunshine. But I didn’t have to time to rest here, I had set myself the challenge of reaching Crow Hill before I could stop for a snack – onward and upward!
It was a fairly quick walk to the top of Crow Hill, although the sun was getting quite hot now and I had to stop a few times for some water. At the top of Crow Hill I was rewarded with more spectacular views, this time out across Midlothian. It was time to stop for a break, out comes the flask and a sandwich. As soon as I unwrapped my sandwich, a huge crow appeared next to me.. obviously wondering what I was doing on his hill!
After working my way through most of my snacks and consuming copious amounts of tea, it was time to set off again as there were three more summits to reach. The next was the Nether Hill, a very easy one to reach as it is only a few meters from Crow Hill and didn’t really involve any uphill walking. Now, on to the most popular hill, Arthur’s Seat. I followed a well worn route from Nether Hill across to Arthur’s Seat, reaching the trig point but I didn’t linger long. I retraced my steps back towards Nether Hill and then looped around towards Salisbury Crags, the final summit before making my way back down towards Holyrood.
The whole route took a couple of hours, with lots of stops to take photos. Although I could see lots of other people in and around Holyrood Park, I didn’t really meet anyone on the paths where I was walking so it was a nice route to remain socially distant on. It is a fairly easy route to walk, although there are some steep uphill sections which could be a bit challenging. However, there are so many paths to explore throughout the area, you could certainly find something to suit all abilities.
Hopefully we will be able to get the CRF Walking Group back together soon, but in the meantime I will continue to try and get out walking locally. I find that spending time outdoors and being physically active is very beneficial to my mental health, so I will keep trying to strive for my 10,000 daily steps.
If you have any local walking routes to recommend please share them in the comments below, or email us at ECRF.Sustainability@ed.ac.uk to share your story and we can add it to the blog!