Exploring Holyrood Park

Exploring Holyrood Park

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.

Route Map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View towards North Berwick (if you look closely you can see Berwick Law)

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!

Dunsapie Crag and Loch

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!

View of Edinburgh Castle
A bumble bee working hard in the sunshine

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2 Comments

  1. Marie Leslie

    That looks great, Joanne. Looks like you had a great day for this walk too. I’ve only ever climbed Arthur’s Seat from Holyrood, usually coming down to Duddingston and back via the Innocent Railway path. I’ve never explored the other parts of the park. Did you have a map/guide to show you where to go? Or did you just go by the OS Map?

    Good on you with the 10,000 steps/day. I have been failing miserably on that since I don’t have my daily walk to work (my current walk to work is around 20 paces!), so I’ll need to start on a plan to get more active too.

    1. Joanne

      I din’t have a map with me, The paths are so clearly defined that I didn’t really need one but there are lots of routes with maps available online. For a quick location check I would use the Guru Maps app on my phone, it is really useful and shows lots of little footpaths, not just the well trodden routes and main footpaths that are marked on most mapping apps – although on less familiar routes I would always recommend a map and compass and wouldn’t rely on an app alone!

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