8 Sep 2010

Edinburgh's ancient outdoor fitness mecca

This is the perfect time of year to get out for a hike after work, to stretch out those hours of daylight as far as they will go.

In Edinburgh the hills around Holyrood Park are slowly changing from summer green to autumn gold. In the late afternoon of a sunny day, Arthur’s Seat looms above the city like a gentle giant.

One of the things I love about Arthur’s Seat and the entire landscape of Holyrood Park is it is a place for everyone, whatever your fitness level.

There I was, lumbering slowly upwards, stopping again and again to catch my breath and take photos, while members of the super fit clan ran past us up the hill and other returning walkers meandered back to the city.
I couldn’t help wondering who would want to spend time in a gym when an extinct volcano is available and free for anyone to use. Aside from the cardio (wheeze, wheeze), the hike can also be filed under strength training and even balance work as you (carefully!) traverse some of the more uneven sections of trail.
Even at my snail’s pace it only takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. Along with the views of the city and the beautiful undulations of the hills, there is the added bonus of people watching.

I love how people interact with this place and the strange sense of community that takes over me when I am there at the top with others who have made the climb.
Grinning tourists, out-of-breath dog walkers, artists hunched over sketch pads - everyone apart but together in this moment of being on top of the world.

I have never been at the top during the summer solstice sunrise but it is something I would love to do because I think the feeling of kinship would be intensified when everyone has gathered there for a single purpose.
If you are visiting Edinburgh you cannot miss the chance to walk the hills of Holyrood Park and climb Arthur’s Seat. There is something magical about the place and it is sure to give you a whole new perspective on Scotland’s Capital.

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