Arthur’s Seat looms over the south east corner of Edinburgh and from its summit almost all of this great city is visible. The remains of an extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags provide a dramatic back drop to Scotland’s capital city. Home to some of the earliest recorded inhabitants in the area with evidence of Iron Age forts still visible on the slopes.
Throughout history allusions have been made to Arthurian legend and that the hill is the location of Camelot. More recently, the hill featured prominently in the film version of David Nicholls “One Day”. The sweeping views from the summit and nearby ‘Radical Road’ along the Salisbury Crags are a gift to film-makers.
We would recommend that visitors to the city take the opportunity to ascend this inner city peak. The summit is 251 metres and a leisurely couple of hours will see most people up and down the mountain. It is far easier than many would imagine as Queens Drive allows for a gentle stroll almost all the way to the top (you could even drive almost all the way there if so inclined). There are varying routes open to the intrepid explorer and we would advise that sturdy shoes are worn and common sense applied to the route taken.
Another recommended route is to start opposite the Palace of Holyrood House and proceed to the summit and then head for The Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston. Reputedly the oldest pub in the area it was once host to Queen Mary of Scots. It is a fine reward for any walkers effort.
The geology of the city is celebrated by Our Dynamic Earth museum. From the big bang to glaciers, technology and interactive displays in this modern museum make this a great day out for children and adults a like. Our Dynamic Earth sits in the shadow of Salisbury Crags and visitors can also wander across the landscape forecourt to the nearby Scottish Parliament Building. The seat of Scotland’s devolved government since 2004. This unique building has been the source of debate since the Enric Miralles design was chosen. Visitors are encouraged to access the public areas of the building and guided tours can be arranged subject to availability.
Southside Apartments have a a range of 2 and 3 bedroom apartments available on Newington Road. Just 10 minutes walk form the Royal Mile. With well equipped kitchens and spacious lounges visitors will be very comfortable during their stay.
The southside is home to the University of Edinburgh’s main campus. Bristo Square and McEwan Hall offer a focal point for visitors but other points of interest are the Talbot Rice Gallery which specialises in contemporary and modern art and St Cecilia’s Hall and the Reid Concert Hall with their collections of musical instruments. The area has an enormous range of bars and restaurants catering for students, locals and tourists alike.
Nearby George Square also offers ready access to The Meadows. This tree lined park is an urban sanctuary, the scene of many impromptu games of football and touch rugby. It is a perfect picnic spot and has an enormous play park for children of all ages at its eastern end.
Also located on the south side, The National Museum of Scotland is arguably one of the best museums in the country. Found on Chambers Street this amalgamation of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and The Royal Scottish Museum in 2006. The museum successfully married the old and new buildings and has been recognised for its architectural merit. The original building dates from the 1860s and the new wing was completed in 1998.
With collections related to Scottish history, ancient Egypt, the natural world and the cosmos all life can be found within these walls. Sir Jackie Stewart’s racing car, Dolly The Sheep, the Lewis Chessmen and the Impressive Millennium Clock Tower are some of the eclectic exhibits on show. The museum is very child friendly and an exquisite range of period costumes which can be tried on in The Kingdom of the Scots hall (look for the Discovery Zones all round the museum). There is truly too much on display here to be able to mention. If you are coming to the city this is a must see.
The curators have attempted to assist visitors by creating a four story “window on the world” display in the Grand Gallery. The diversity of the items displayed in this one space is difficult to believe: an auto-gyro, space rockets, animal skeletons, tribal weapons and much, much more. The ‘new’ wing even has a roof terrace where you take in exquisite views over the city. One victim of the overhaul in 2011 was the Moroccan fountain in the main hall. Home to several Koi Carp this beautiful ceramic fountain would often find itself acting as a splash pool for overly curious children! There was not a time that I visited the Museum without seeing a child tumbling into the water.
A short walk to the south an Greyfriars apartments on Forrest Hill overlook the Greyfriars Kirk and cemetery. The Kirk was home to Edinburgh’s most loyal pet for 14 years and was once used as a prison by ‘Bluidy McKenzie’ for the rebellious Presbyterian Covenanters. It is said by some that the cemetery is haunted to this day by the poor souls who where tortured by Charles II Lord Advocate.
Greyfriars Self Catering holiday apartments have views over the Kirk and have a peaceful charm. Offering three flats close to the heart of the city and are an ideal base for couples visiting the city.
Southside of the city is a very pleasant area in which to stay. Its proximity to the centre of the city gives ease of access to all the main tourist attractions and the parks and green spaces combine to offer a relaxing backdrop for visitors.