Calton Hill vs Arthur's Seat: I know which Edinburgh attraction I adore most - Gaby Soutar

View from Calton Hill Pic: Todor Nikolov/AdobeView from Calton Hill Pic: Todor Nikolov/Adobe
View from Calton Hill Pic: Todor Nikolov/Adobe
It’s the easiest one to walk up

Apologies to Arthur’s Seat, but Calton Hill is my favourite city incline.

It’s not a munro, or even much of a walk at all. You don’t need sturdy shoes, a map, Goretex or energy bars. That’s why I love it.

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This pocket-sized volcanic hill is an urban surprise. You’re in the middle of the city, then eight minutes later, you’re lording it up high and filling your lungs with fresh haar.

Look! There’s the new W Hotel, and The Walk, the Firth of Forth and The Balmoral’s five-minutes-fast clock. Everything looks so cinematic.

The Athens of the North is always changing, yet some things reassuringly remain the same. All is well.

The last time I went up it, my four-year-old nephew was in tow. It was his first time.

If he remains an Edinburger, there will be many more walks up this hill.

We approached from the steeper Royal Terrace end, rather than the Waterloo Place entrance, which seems gentler and has stairs some of the way. He grumbled and stalled all the way to the top. However, his tiny mind was blown when we reached the summit.

He’s still too short of leg to clamber up The National Monument of Scotland, or Edinburgh’s Disgrace. I’m too ancient to do it. I’d probably rip my trousers.

There are still teenagers, sitting up there and smoking, though, these days, it’s vapes rather than Marlboro Lights.

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My nieces climbed up, then we took photos, with them making the obligatory peace sign.

They asked about the City Observatory, the Nelson Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument. What are they? I fudged my answers, because I never remember what’s what.

I point out restaurant, The Lookout, and we spy at the Collective Gallery.

I tell them that I once stayed overnight at Observatory House, with part of the building dating from 1776 as the first attempt to build an astronomical observatory. It can now be rented out, as a self-catering property. When we stopped there, it was so windy that the house groaned like an old ship all night. It was magical.

Once upon a time, going up this hill was a guaranteed escape. You wouldn’t want to tackle it as a solo woman, because it’d be too quiet, except for the occasional character keen to share his Special Brew.

Now, it’s tourist-tastic, but that’s Edinburgh for you. On our last visit, there were drones, angrily zipping all over the place, and so many people, all in their holiday Instagram-tastic bubbles.

It’s definitely a bit quieter up Arthur’s Seat, but Calton Hill is still my favourite.

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