Bid to beat 18th century Arthur’s Seat record

The Alan Breck Volunteer Regiment take to the Capital's streets. Picture: contributed
The Alan Breck Volunteer Regiment take to the Capital's streets. Picture: contributed
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A HISTORICAL race is to be reenacted at Arthur’s Seat for the first time in hundreds of years.

Battle enthusiasts will replicate a challenge once set to James Burnet of the Edinburgh City Guard – to reach the top in 15 minutes.

Wearing scarlet coats, cocked hats and carrying flintlock muskets, members of the Alan Breck Volunteer Regiment will try to race the route, climbing around 280 metres, to commemorate the last captain of the Guard.

Known for his love of good food, Burnet cut an unlikely military figure when he completed the quick march in the early 1800s in an impressive 14 minutes, 30 seconds.

Members of the recently formed guard will meet at St Anthony’s well on Saturday, to test how tough it was.

Arran Johnston, chairman of the group, said he hoped they would not be left red faced.

He said: “I’m hoping not to be embarrassed by the challenge which I will be if he managed it more quickly than I do.

“The description at the time said by the time he got to the top he looked like an expiring porpoise. It’s never been done since so it’s a bit of a first. It should be a bit of a spectacle for anyone at Arthur’s Seat on Saturday.”

Portly Burnet celebrated his triumph in typical fashion with a giant banquet and the walking party intend on mirroring this aspect too.

They will be joined by US-based historian Martin Margulies and true to the original race, Mr Margulies will then join the re-enactors for a banquet to toast their achievement.

The City Guard, once the Capital’s top crime fighting team, existed for around 140 years to protect residents from law-breakers within and rebels without. In March members of the volunteer regiment, where half of the society portrays the soldiers of Bonnie Prince Charlie, while the others represent the redcoats of the Guard, paraded through the city’s Old Town for the first time since the real regiment disbanded.

Arran said members researching the role of the Guard found the story and thought it was one worth sharing. He added: “We do all types of events, from big battles to school visits, but we’ve never tried climbing Arthur’s Seat against the clock before. We bring history to life, and this is one small way of remembering a real character from Edinburgh’s past.”