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25 September 2007

Climbing Arthur's Seat

Day 3 in Scotland: Saturday, 22 September
For once, I finally got to sleep in. But not too late, because we had to eat breakfast and check out of the hostel by 10:30. Nicole and I left our bags in their luggage room and proceeded to continue our exploration of Edinburgh. Today's goal: Climb Arthur's Seat.

Arthur's seat is an 800-foot high mountain right next to central Edinburgh with beautiful open scenery and some of the best views of Edinburgh and the nearby Firth of Forth. So we set off, walking down the Royal Mile. We passed the Scottish Parliament, with its distinctive modern architecture and sharply acute geometric angles, and Holyrood Palace.

Then we walked into Holyrood Park. There were several paths going in different directions, and Nicole asked which one led to the top, and a police officer told us to go around the long way, down a small side road which didn't even seem to go uphill. Nevertheless, we reluctantly went down that less-traveled road, and along the way we passed some meadows and ponds filled with geese. After swooping around the east side of the mountain, the road finally curved uphill, and wound its way up the mountainside. The paved road ended, and following one of several footpaths led us most of the way to the top. The final few hundred steps were over rocks and boulders, but it also became very windy! We survived, and the view was definitely worth it. You could see for miles in every direction.

Thankfully, the sun peeked out and it ended up being really pleasant. There were a lot of avid local hikers sharing the peak with tourists.

The way down was also spectacular. We walked down the other path, which was steeper and more direct. It was also more treacherous at times (neither of us was wearing proper hiking shoes), but we saw even more great views of the city. Edinburgh is beautiful, especially if you appreciate its medieval stone architecture, darkened by years of pollution.

It was an exhausting walk, so by the time we had walked down the mountain and back up the Royal Mile to our hostel, we were tired and hungry. Nicole shared with me a meager lunch of canned ravioli. Then we rested for a while in the hostel living room. It was our last day in Edinburgh, and there was plenty more to see and do...

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