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.
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!
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 it's 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.