The Seven Hills of Edinburgh


From its broad boulevards and narrow, cobbled alleys, to its vast parks and winding canals, Edinburgh is a city of captivating contrasts. The antique and the modern. Landscapes and waterscapes. Terraced houses and towering castles. Yet to truly appreciate the juxtaposition of these natural and manmade wonders, there’s no better perspective than from the hills that surround the city.


The most impressive of the high points in and around Edinburgh are known as the Seven Hills: Castle Rock, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill,Blackford Hill, Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat. All created by volcanic activity millennia ago, these hills have watched the city spring up from nothing. Today, each offers a unique view over the evolving city and all seven may be ascended in a single day. We explore some of the highlights here…


Regal attraction: Castle Rock

Just steps from The Balmoral and one of the city’s most dominant landmarks. The seat of Edinburgh Castle, this 130-metre hill gazes down over the Royal Mile, Princes Street and parts of both the Old and New Towns – from the castle ramparts, you can see the Forth, glittering on the horizon.


Photographers’ heaven: Calton Hill

At the foot of this UNESCO World Heritage Site you’ll find buildings including the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace, and at its summit, impressive monuments, the Old Royal High School and the grand old observatory. From besides the Dugald Stewart Monument, it’s possible to capture a sweeping panorama of the city, complete with Edinburgh Castle, The Balmoral’s clocktower and the cathedral spires all aligned.


Wild woods: Corstorphine Hill

For a more westerly view, head up Corstorphine Hill, which is blanketed in ancient woodland and offers a slightly wilder ramble. Below it stands Edinburgh Zoo – expect a glimpse of ostriches and zebra as you begin your climb – and towards the top, the picturesque stone Clermiston Tower, built for Sir Walter Raleigh, can be seen. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a very different angle of Edinburgh city centre, and, if the weather is clear, a view over to the Forth Bridges with a backdrop of the Highlands.


Mighty volcano: Arthur’s Seat

The tallest of the Seven Hills at 250 metres, Arthur’s Seat is also the most dramatic, with its steep crags, windswept grassy peaks and the medieval ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. As you look out over the city from the top of this majestic, extinct volcano, you can enjoy views that lead all the way over to the Firth of Forth and the Highlands.


You’ll be perfectly placed to discover all seven hills with a stay at The Balmoral, and our Concierge will be delighted to arrange an itinerary for you to do so. Email or call +44 131 556 2414.


Share this post