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April 2013 Archives

April 21, 2013

Arthur's Seat rocks

Having overnighted in Duddingston, we were delighted to find Saturday's weather still good, and decided to climb Arthur's Seat first thing. From Duddingston Loch, there's a steepish but fairly direct approach to the upper road near Dunsapie Loch, then a lovely gentle grassy approach to the final rocky summit area. At just 250.5 m (822 feet) this extinct volcano dates from the Carboniferous era (about 350 million years ago) and it offers a huge payoff for a very modest effort.

It's amazing to be part of such a rural scene and yet only 2 miles from Waverley Station. It's also humbling to be treading in James Hutton (1726-97) territory: the famous Hutton's Section is a feature in nearby Salisbury Crags. He concluded that its volcanic rocks must have been molten when they penetrated the sedimentary rock, thus placing them in a different geological era. It was this sense of "deep time" that later gave Darwin a long enough scale over which to imagine that natural selection could take place. It's tempting to wonder if Hutton would have realised all this had he not been a son of Edinburgh and regular visitor to Salisbury Crags.

We were thrilled to see a kestrel hovering over the rough grasses of the approach, to glimpse skylarks and to hear lots of other small birds. You also get good views over the hill forts of Crow Hill and Arthur's Seat. But the climax was reaching the craggy rocks of the summit area with its wonderful views in all directions: below are some views north-west over Waverley towards the Forth bridges, west over the Meadows and south towards the Pentlands:




And finally, I can't resist the inevitable summit photo of two happy people:



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