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Edinburgh Sunrise

Arthur's Seat at Dawn

This morning I climbed Arthur’s Seat (250 m), an extinct volcano that towers over the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, at dawn. I climbed this same hill almost 26 years ago, to the day, after arriving here as a graduate student in 1983. I remember scrambling to the top then, along the steepest possible route: pure enthusiasm, but little finesse.

This morning’s hike was steep, but a little more sedate. I hiked up to the summit by way of Hollyrood Palace and followed some old eroded paths up to the top. The sun had fully risen by the time I reached the summit, but the wind was blowing cold and brisk, so I didn’t linger long.

Being in Edinburgh again always brings back memories for me. This morning, I remembered my first night in the city, arriving by train from London, after a grueling trip from the US. I was so tired, I picked the first hotel I found to spend the night, the North British, a huge coal-black pile, located over Waverly Station. It’s since been cleaned and renamed The Balmoral, both disappointments, in my view.

Arthur's Seat from the Meadows, Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a very walkable city and we did a lot of walking on Saturday visiting St. Giles Cathedral, the Meadows (above, with Arthur’s seat to the right), and John Knox’s house on the Royal Mile. For dinner, we ate at an excellent vegetarian restaurant called David Bann’s, that was recommended to me by Chris Townsend. Highly recommended!

 Edinburgh's Old City From Calton Hill

The previous morning, I climbed another of Edinburgh’s fine hills, Calton Hill, for the first time. Our hotel’s garden looks right onto it and I couldn’t resist the short hike up to its top before breakfast.

We’re off now to the Borders to tour Roman ruins and Christian Abbeys, and maybe do some rambling, if I can steal away for a few hours. But then again there are my dawn walks, when I get to go where I want before the world wakes.

Written 2009.


  1. Edinburgh is a fine, fine city. My younger son lives there now and it's always a joy to visit him – as I shall be doing in December.

    Hope the rest of Scotland is as pleasing to you.

  2. I cannot tell you how jealous I am! European hiking is something I keep hearing about, and I definitely need to get over there for some good walks sometime. Great pictures… keep them coming :)

  3. Guthook – I'm on facebook at
    I'm posting daily updates from our trip there, but I will be doing some posts here as well.

  4. Looks like a great city and a great place for some hiking! Keep the reports coming!

  5. Looks like that was a wonderful trip.

  6. I have to find some time to write the whole trip up – it's still fresh in my mind. We had a great 10 day trip to the borders although relying on my wife as a navigator of british roads almost led to divorce.

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