Exploring Edinburgh: Salisbury Crags

Back at the start of the year — after about 4 months in Edinburgh, shocking! — we finally got up Arthur’s Seat, the dormant volcano which gazes out at the city. And to be honest? I was a bit underwhelmed. Although the view from the top was amazing, the summit was so crammed with visitors talking and taking selfies that it was a tad distracting. It’s hard to enjoy an impressive view when there’s not nature’s usual silence — and space! — accompanying it.

Arthur's Seat with its spring colours
Arthur’s Seat with its spring colours

So recently we decided to try out the neighbouring Salisbury Crags. A series of cliffs that sit to the west of Holyrood Park and just below Arthur’s Seat itself, they rise to over 150 feet above Edinburgh. Following their irregular curves is a walk in itself; a sometimes steep stroll that takes in beautiful views over the city and towards the Pentlands.

Views from the Crags
Across the city below

You can either start from the northerly trail near Holyrood Palace — the Queen’s official residence in Scotland — or you can take the shorter track from the south which offers easier access straight to the Crags. We started from the Holyrood entrance, following the tarmac trail directly underneath Arthur’s Seat and weaving back on ourselves along the Crags.

Would you sit on the edge and take it all in?
Spot the castle!

Sunshine always helps, right? But even in the rain I think the Crags would be beautiful. Here, on an exposed cliff high above this pretty city, you feel humbled. There are almost half a million people spread out before you, cosy in their square houses, leading their little lives. It’s that contrast between the landscape and the city that Edinburgh does so well.

Silhouettes - you can see why this is a prime Instagram spot!
Silhouettes – you can see why this is a prime Instagram spot!

But — compared to Arthur’s Seat — it’s relatively quiet. And that’s what I loved about it. Yes, you still hear the humming of the cars and the muted chatter of the walkers a bit further ahead, but mostly it’s peaceful. On the Crags, there is still space for your mind and body to wander. No pushing up a narrow, rocky path with a dozen other sightseers. No struggling to find a silent spot to sit for a breather. No, on the Crags, nature still reigns.

Towards Holyrood Palace & Calton Hill from the northern crags
Towards Holyrood Palace & Calton Hill from the northern crags

So pick a sunny day, pack a picnic, take your best friend’s hand and wander the crags. Seek out a quiet spot, plonk your bum on the grass and absorb the rays as Edinburgh shimmers below you. Here’s to many happy days here this summer!

How to get there: The bus network in the city is great so if you’re coming from further away, this is the way to do it (get route info on Google Maps). If you’re based in Edinburgh, the walk to Holyrood Park (Arthur’s Seat and the Crags) is a pretty one. We come from the Leith direction and it takes us about twenty minutes.

Have you visited Salisbury Crags? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Exploring Edinburgh: Salisbury Crags

  1. haha I lived in Edinburgh for about 4-5 months and NEVER went up Arthur’s Seat – what a fail. I loved the Salisbury Crags though – I lived right by the entrance to Holyrood Park and so often on weekends we’d go up – if not only to the chapel 🙂

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