Without a doubt, one of the best ways to explore Edinburgh is on foot. The city is incredibly compact and there are a number of beautiful viewpoints and walks dotted throughout the city. Since moving up in November, I’ve been ticking off a number each month and have compiled a list of some of my favourite hills to walk and green spaces to explore.
Arthur’s Seat is the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh, which form most of Holyrood Park. It is perhaps the most well known hill and one of the most popular tourist attractions. The incline is fairly steep and it can be quite slippery in areas, especially if it’s been raining. The views from the top however, are spectacular- you can see for miles across the city and beyond to the Kingdom of Fife. On a sunny day there’s quite often an ice-cream van stationed at the bottom so you can treat yourself to something sweet after a 251 km walk to the summit.
Blackford Hill is one of the seven hills of Edinburgh and offers beautiful panoramic views over the Pentland Hills, city skyline and Arthur’s Seat. It’s not as high as Arthur’s Seat and the incline is much gentler- a lovely destination for dog walking, particularly at sunset. It’s also home to the green domed Royal Observatory, which houses a university astronomy research group and a Visitors Centre. It tends to be less busy than Arthur’s Seat and has an array of viewpoints so you can sit down and admire the stunning views.
Calton Hill is another one of Edinburgh’s main hills, situated right in the city centre. It is easily identifiable with its Athenian acropolis jutting above the skyline. The acropolis is actually unfinished – it was meant to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, as a memorial to those who had died in the Napoleonic Wars but the project ran out of funding and it has remained unfinished. It is a very easy climb and hugely accessible, taking just 5 minutes to get to the top. There are a collection of buildings and monuments at the top, including two observatories and Nelson’s monument. You can climb the latter for £5 (although the museum on the ground floor is free) and get an incredible view of the area. The views from the top of Calton Hill however are almost just as impressive and it won’t cost you a penny!
The Meadows is a large park situated to the south of Edinburgh city centre. It’s largely an open space, ideal for summer picnics and BBQ’s (when the weather cooperates) and looks particularly stunning when the trees blossom in the summer. It’s a great destination for families with a children’s playground, tennis courts and sport pitches.
Newhailes House is a National Trust country house surrounded by eighty acres of parkland on the edge of the small town of Musselburgh. It is dog friendly and they have a lovely little coffee shop and provide guided tours of the house. A great day out, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre!
What are your favourite parks and hills? I’d love to hear from you!