Friday, 8 November 2013

Here be volcanoes

Edinburgh is a city of amazing green spaces and they really define and enhance the urban landscape. Some of the more well known are: the area round the university known as the Meadows; Princes Street Gardens between the Old Town perched on its spine and the New Town; and, at the eastern end of Princes street, Calton Hill, which offers an amazing view over Leith and the Firth of Forth to Fife. Most well known are the more rugged and extremely imposing Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags which together form part of a brilliant recreational space called Holyrood Park.

Busy late October afternoon at the bottom of Arthur's Seat
The whole of Edinburgh is built upon the remains of ancient volcanic activity. Arthur's Seat, like Castle rock, is the remnant of a volcanic core, while Salisbury Crags is an ancient igneous intrusion. The hills which have gradually become part of greater Edinburgh, are also a legacy of this volcanic activity.
Dramatic ruins of St Anthony's chapel above St Margaret's Loch. Holyrood Park
These open spaces are extremely popular and actively used by locals and tourists alike. It isn't unusual to see plenty of people walking, jogging or cycling on an ordinary weekday in the middle of the afternoon. Even at the end of October on a day with blustery showers, the parking lot at bottom end of the Royal Mile just beyond the garden wall of Holyrood Palace was pretty full and there was a continuous procession of people climbing up the path to Arthur's Seat. So well used are Arthur's Seat & Salisbury Crags that wardens have to close paths from time to time to allow them to recover from their intensive use.
Dunsapie Loch, round the back of Arthur's Seat. You can just make out a tanker on the Forth beyond.
Edinburgh is perched on these remnants of ancient volcanoes and lava flows because of their strategic value. It is at this point that, to the south, the barrier of the Pentland Hills comes closest to the Firth of Forth and the outcrops form an natural barrier.  From the top of Arthur's Seat you have a fabulous 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape. Even lower down you are still able to see landmarks which are miles away.

View towards Dunbar. Traprain Law [lone hill] in the far distance on the right [17 miles].
Looking east along the south coast of the Firth of Forth towards Dunbar just proves the point.

click on the photos to enlarge

11 comments:

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

I did not realise the Edinburgh was a city on volcanic activity. Interesting post. Our home town of Bath is also in the remains of an old volcano. Have a good week you two. Diane

Jean said...

Like Diane, I had no idea that the city was built on a volcano.
Beautiful photos, especially the one of the ruined church and loch. Bleak and beautiful at the same time.

the fly in the web said...

It's good to have good walking so close to the centre of the city.
At least your volcanoes are extinct...ours are showing signs of life this year...

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane- Interesting; Bath as well ... didn't know that :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - it was quite a bleak day -- mind you in Edinburgh terms the weather was quite good1 ;-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - anywhere near you? I hope not!

Perpetua said...

Super photos taken in good Scottish weather. :-) It's so long since I visited Edinburgh and really explored it, so we must find time soon. It was a lot quieter back then....

Perpetua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - there is a saying in Edinburgh:- if you can see the Pentland hills it's going to rain; if you can't, it is [raining]. About sums it up for 80% of the time! ;-)

chm said...

Edinburgh's weather sounds very much like Rouen's!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@chm - pretty much! But probably a rather rawer being that bit further north.