Arthur’s Seat is the largest of the three parts of the Holyrood Park Volcano site of special scientific interest (other parts being to the Calton Hill and Castle Rock) which is an ancient volcano, and sits 251m above sea level giving excellent view of the city; it is also the site of a large and well-preserved fort. This is one of four hill forts dating from around 2000 years ago.
With its diverse range of flora and geology, it is also the site of Special Scientific Interest.
Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built, it was formed by an extinct volcano system of Carboniferous age (lava samples have been dated at 341 to 335 million years old), which was eroded by a glacier moving from west to east during the Quaternary (approximately the last two million years), exposing rocky crags to the west and leaving a tail of material swept to the east.
If you head out for a walk to Arthur’s Seat you’ll discover much more than just great views. Within Holyrood Park you’ll also find St Anthony’s Chapel – a 15th-century medieval chapel, a series of 150-foot cliff faces called Salisbury Crags, and Duddingston Loch – a freshwater loch which is full of birdlife.
Prices and opening times
Admission to Arthur’s Seat is free.
Arthur’s Seat open 24 hours a day, all year round
Parking is available near Holyrood Palace Broad Pavement, St Margaret’s Loch, Dunsapie Loch and Duddingston Loch.
You must pay for the parking near Holyrood Palace Broad Pavement. The cost is £1 an hour (minimum charge £1).
Charges apply from 8.30am to 5.30pm daily, except on:
Saturdays Sundays Easter Monday 25 and 26 December 1 January
Two of the several extinct vents make up the ‘Lion’s Head’ and the ‘Lion’s Haunch’
Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags adjoining it helped form the ideas of modern geology as it is currently understood. It was in these areas that James Hutton observed that the deposition of the sedimentary and formation of the igneous rocks must have occurred at different ages and in different ways than the thinking of that time said they did.
World-famous Scottish geologist James Hutton used the rock formations at the south end of the park’s Radical Road as evidence for his groundbreaking 1788 work, Theory of the Earth. This area is now known as Hutton’s Section.Discover all aspects of the volcano, from vents on Arthur’s Seat to lava flows on Whinny Hill.
The hill bears a strong resemblance to the Cavehill in Belfast in terms of its geology and proximity to a major urban site.
It is possible to see a particular area known as Hutton’s Section in the Salisbury Crags where the magma forced its way through the sedimentary rocks above it to form the dolerite sills that can be seen in the Section.
As you’d expect with a large green area, there aren’t a lot of facilities near Arthur’s Seat but you will find toilets within the Holyrood Park. There’s a route towards Arthur’s Seat which is tarmac all the way so perfect for any visitors in wheelchairs.
Access to the Arthur’s Seat & Getting there
Sturdy footwear with a good grip is recommended for exploring Arthur’s Seat. Walking just a short distance can take you from tarmac pavement to rugged and uneven ground.
Situated to the east of the city centre, about a mile from Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park is a short walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
There are a number of car parks near Holyrood Park. To get close to Arthur’s Seat, head to Dunsapie Loch (Holyrood Park) for free parking and a short walk.
Plenty of buses will take you into Edinburgh city centre, but hop on the 6 or 36 to stop near to the Royal Park and Holyrood Palace.
If you’re arriving in Edinburgh by train, take a short 15-minute walk through the city centre to start your hike through Holyrood Park.