Rock falls at Salisbury Crags close pathway

A POPULAR path round Salisbury Crags has been closed off after a series of heavy rock falls.

Historic Scotland decided to close the so-called Radical Road, which is well used by joggers, while a safety inspection is carried out.

Experts will investigate the side of the Crags by abseiling down them over the next few weeks before making recommendations to the heritage body.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They will also be removing any obviously loose rocks, to reduce the risk of further falls.

It is not known how long it will take to carry out the work, or whether some form of permanent measure, such as netting, will have to be installed to ensure the safety of visitors to the park.

The falls were thought to have been caused by recent heavy rainfall which loosened soil on the slopes, displaced small rocks and in turn caused the rock formations to be less stable.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: "A team of specialist rockwork contractors is currently working on a programme of slope management at Holyrood Park.

"Recent heavy rainfall has resulted in some rock-fall from Salisbury Crags on to the Radical Road.

"As a precautionary measure, Historic Scotland arranged for some localised surface scaling, which involves the removal of potentially loose rocks, to be carried out.

"Further assessment of the area is also required. This will require the Radical Road footpath to be closed to the public pending further assessment and possible scaling works. Other roads and footpaths will not be affected."

It is just the latest in a series of rock falls from Salisbury Crags – last August several roads around Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park had to be closed off after similar incidents.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mike Brown, the British Geological Survey district geologist for central Scotland, said: "There is a long history of rock falls from the Crags, and rain is certainly a contributing factor, as it can lubricate loose rocks and erode the rockface, widening cracks and loosening other rocks.

"There are similar places in Scotland where netting or rock bolting has been used, but I think Historic Scotland would be very reluctant to go down that route because of the iconic significance of the Crags.

"Obviously there is a health and safety element, but they are doing the right thing by having experts remove any loose rocks and examine the Crags to see what is needed. There are different ways to provide a defence against rock falls, such as the existing ditches at the bottom of the Crags, which act to trap falling rocks."

Salisbury Crags are part of the 350 million-year-old volcano Arthur's Seat, one of Edinburgh's most famous landmarks.

Today the Crags are popular with rock-climbers, and make an impressive backdrop to Holyrood Park, but in the early 19th century they were heavily quarried.

The Radical Road earned its name after it was paved in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820, using the labour of unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland at the suggestion of Walter Scott. The House of Lords later decreed that no more stone was to be quarried from Arthur's Seat, ensuring the Crags' survival.