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