This summer we spent a month living in Edinburgh. While there, the four kids and I climbed Arthur’s Seat. It was a highlight of the trip, in spite of rain and the fact that it is a pretty tough climb for a 3-year-old! Here are my top tips for hiking Arthur’s Seat with kids.
A Mountain in the City: Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat
Set in the center of the city, Arthur’s Seat is the peak of a group of small mountains that form most of Holyrood Park. Since this peak rises 822 feet above the city, it offers an incredible panoramic view. I lived in Edinburgh for three years as a graduate student, and never climbed all the way to the top. I decided to change that and brought my kids along this summer. Besides being a neat hiking experience, Arthur’s Seat offers incredible views of the city.
We took the bus to the end of the royal mile and took the trail that starts across the street from Holyrood Palace. We happened to hike on one of the days when the Queen of England was hosting at tea at Holyrood Palace – that’s why you see the tents. Everyone is underneath the tents because it was drizzling all afternoon.
If you take this path, you also get a great view of the Scottish Parliament as you climb – it is right next to Holyrood Palace. We were able to tour this Parliament building, so the kids enjoyed seeing it from above after seeing the inside.
St. Anthony’s Chapel
Scotland is full of ruins, and Arthur’s Seat is no exception. These ruins are all that remain of St. Anthony’s chapel, which is thought to have been built in the 1300s as an outlying chapel for Holyrood Abbey, whose ruins you can see in the photo above, standing next to Holyrood Palace.
There were plenty of beautiful flowers to admire as we climbed. The kids were fascinated by the bees that were busy pollinating the flowers.
The kids were also excited to spot Calton Hill, which we also climbed this summer.
Princes Street was another landmark they recognized. We stopped here our very first day in Edinburgh, after realizing that one of our children somehow forgot to put they pants they had lain out for my approval into their suitcase!
Full Panoramic View of Edinburgh City
The above photos were taken as we climbed, but by the time we reached the top it was much too rainy and windy for me to pull out my DSLR while also making sure none of the kids slipped on rocks or got pushed over by the wind. I did pull out my phone for a panoramic view of the city, including Edinburgh Castle.
Tips for Climbing Arthur’s Seat with Kids
My kids were 3, 6, 8, and 10 years old for this climb. It was a fairly demanding hike for all of them, mainly because the route we picked (starting near Holyrood Palace) ended up with some rock climbing at the end. That would have been okay if it hadn’t been raining. There was no way we were going down that way, and I realized as we were heading down that if we had walked around the back we would have discovered a much smoother ascent. Even with this poor choice of path, climbing Arthur’s Seat is one of their favorite memories from the summer. Here are my tips for climbing Arthur’s Seat with Kids.
Even if it is reasonably warm at the bottom, the top of Arthur’s Seat can get very windy – it was the day we were there. Add in rain and you need a good jacket!
Start with a Bathroom Stop
There are no bathroom facilities on the climb up Arthur’s Seat. Even if you embrace the “find a tree” philosophy, there aren’t any trees to find – and I doubt your Scottish hosts would appreciate your using them if there were.
I packed sandwiches for my kids to eat about halfway up. This helped a lot with their feeling tired and worn out. I also had a couple treats for them to enjoy on the way down.
Wear Good Shoes
Parts of the path can be quite slippery, especially if it is raining.
Choose Your Path Carefully
There are several different paths up Arthur’s Seat. Choose the one that best meets the needs of your group.
I also recommend checking out my general tips for hiking with kids before you head out.
Have you ever climbed Arthur’s Seat with kids? Do you have any general tips for hiking with kids? Leave a note here or on my Facebook Page. Sign up for my mailing list to receive parenting tips, educational activities, and crafts in your inbox every week.