Sunday, July 28, 2013

Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat beside Duddingston Loch
Arthur's Seat is a notable landmark of Edinburgh as it is a mountain that serves as the backdrop of the city.  I have read that climbing to the top provides excellent panoramic views of the city and surrounding Scotland on a clear day.  However, there is not much literature on exactly how to climb to the top.  There are many different trails and ways to climb to the top, but no ONE this is the path you take with small children in tow.  Since it seemed that there were easy and difficult routes to take, but lots of chances to blaze your own trail as well; we did as much research as we could and then decided to just go for it.  We determined to hike up the west side from Holyrood Palace and down the east side to Duddingston Village.

I have been wanting to hike Arthur's Seat since we arrived, and was very excited when we decided to set off to take on the challenge of hiking Arthur's Seat.  The other problem with reading reviews on TripAdvisor and other travel sites is that everyone has different tolerance levels and athletic abilities.  When I read that it was very challenging and rock-climbing skills could be needed, I was very nervous about going with a 22-month-old and 4-year-old.  However, the route we took was not challenging at all and was a lot of fun!

Amelie wasn't too keen on the uphill portion of the hike, but with ice-cream as a reward for completing this quest she gladly took on the challenge without much fuss.  Liam was very patient to sit in the pack while we hiked up the mountain and provided us with some laughs as we allowed him to hike down the mountain.  With it being a Saturday and nice weather, we were not alone on our quest to hike to the top.  It was fun to see other families out doing the same thing as we were...bribing our children to continue to push through and get to the top! ;)

St. Anthony's Chapel ruins on the mountain.  Not much is known about this chapel, but it is thought to have been built in the 1100's.  It seems very likely that St Anthony's Chapel was closely associated with Holyrood Abbey.  The two were linked by a well-made stone track (now heavily worn) with prominent kerbstones that can in places still be seen.
Only climbing a couple of feet provided us great views of the city.
Bobby carried Liam up the mountain while I carried Liam down the mountain (a little that is).  Amelie walked on her own.  She and I enjoyed looking for yellow and purple flowers on our journey.

We loved the views of the Forth too.  You can see Inchcolm Island in the background.

A nice flat spot near the top to have our picnic lunch of PB & honey while looking to where we needed to head next.
After eating lunch, Amelie decided to relax.  You can see Holyrood Palace and Abbey in the background.
Liam is the collector and collected a couple of rocks to carry with him.   
Right near the top, there was a little more climbing...nothing too crazy though.
  Amelie did a great job picking the way for us to climb.  At this point there was no one path to follow.
Did I mention that this is an extinct volcano, which erupted around 340 million years ago?
At the pinnacle of Arthur's Seat.
As we were walking around on top, Amelie was stung by a bee on her pointer finger.  She cried for a couple of minutes and we watched it swell.  She recovered fairly quickly, but I think a bee-phobia has now begun.
This picture was taken right after she was stung.
Since I am a science teacher this was also particularly interesting to me as this mountain holds a special place in the history of science, for it was here in the late 18th century that James Hutton found evidence to support his theories about the workings of the Earth. He observed igneous and sedimentary rocks and understood that they had been formed at different times by different processes. He suggested that the Earth was very old, and continually changing; a startling new idea that changed forever the way people thought about our planet, and influenced other scientists such as Charles Darwin. James Hutton is now recognised as the 'father of modern geology'.  
It was smart to take different paths going and coming as we were able to see other Lochs and other great views.
 Also, since the east trail is more like rolling grasslands, Liam was able to walk down
(and I got to carry an empty pack!).

He would get running so fast that his legs could not keep up with the momentum of his body.  At one point, he lunged for some soft grass and rolled to a stop.  We all laughed so hard that he continued to throw himself down in the grass as he went down the mountain.  
After we descended the mountain, we arrived at Duddingston Loch.  Duddingston Loch has been used for ice-skating and curling for several centuries.  In an earlier blog post, I showcased a famous Scottish painting of the Reverend Robert Walker ice-skating on Duddingston Loch.  We made our way through the cemetery surrounding the Duddingston Kirk.  We walked through the small village to the Sheep's Heid Pub for treats for the whole family.  Sheep's Heid is said to be Scotland's oldest pub, dating from 1360.
The Loch is now a bird sanctuary.
The swan family behind us was fun to watch.
Bobby reenacting the painting...

Amelie's promised ice-cream.  She generously shared with all of us.  It went above her expectations as it came with a chocolate chip cookie, mint leaves, and a strawberry.  We also ate "chips".  

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