Hiking the Radical Road

Hiking is something I’ve always loved to do. In Texas, it’s easy to grab a water bottle, a good pair of sneakers, and head out for a few hours exploring. So when we were scheduled to go hiking the Radical Road I did the same thing.

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As we got there, I noticed all the Europeans had legit hiking boots. The kind you always see explorers wearing. They looked great, but I didn’t think too much about it. Sneakers would be good. Or so I thought.

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Around 1820, the Radical Revolution stirred the streets of Edinburgh. Commoners were uprising and demanding better living wages and more work opportunities. In an attempt to quell their rage, Sir Walter Scott proposed a project to build a road up the side of Holyrood Park.

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Building the road would take time and provide people with more work. Builders in the city needed more rock anyways, so by creating this road it would mean quicker access to the great material found in Holyrood Park.

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The Radical Road will test your fitness. I thought I was in decent shape, but geez was I winded when I went up that road. It’s a lot steeper than it looks.

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Turns out my tennis shoes were not up to par. They were slipping all over the rock, and I could tell why the Europeans used actual hiking shoes. The rock was different than what I was used to. Yes, we have slippery limestone, but this needed shoes with deep ridges to grip the road.

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The ultimate goal of our group was to reach Arthur’s Seat at the top of the dormant volcano which makes up most of the park. This peak was a focal point in numerous battles and served as a safe spot and a place to view encroaching troops.

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We took several stops up the way luckily. I was breathless the whole way and knew I should’ve worn shorts. It was cold earlier in the day, so I thought I’d be fine with pants but I was utterly wrong.

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Once we hiked the radical road, we continued up a set of steep stairs to level ground. It was a great place we could relax before we climbed the final bit to get to Arthur’s Seat.

What I didn’t expect was the final climb to the top to be so narrow. There was hardly anything to clutch on to and the pathway was barely wide enough for one foot.

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It was a relief to finally reach the top. I felt as if I had conquered the world with a slight asthma attack on the side. The view was something out of a story book. There was the castle on Castle Rock, old buildings, a mountain with an artificial ski slope, and the ocean. Everything was green and there was a cold wind biting our necks.

Our tour guide gave us a bit of scotch, and we drank to the epic climb!

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Time seemed to stand still. If there weren’t so many people at the time, I would’ve sat down, had a picnic, maybe even jotted a few things down in a journal. I am deathly afraid of heights, but there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity. I’m just glad that our tour guide didn’t mention the deaths that occurred climbing up to Arthur’s Seat.

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The way we descended was a lot easier. It was the way most people went up actually. On the way down, we saw the lake which Queen Victoria visited with her new husband Prince Albert then we saw the ruins of an old monastery. According to our tour guide, the ruins helped inspire Mary Shelley when she was writing Frankenstein.

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The climb is a must try when you only have a limited amount of time in Edinburgh. You get to see the entire city and figure out your next adventure!

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