Length: 7.5 km (4.7 miles), terrain hilly
NOTE: On Sundays, Holyrood Park is closed to cars during the autumn and winter, making it especially nice to run. Pictures courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons. Thanks!
If you've spent some time in downtown Edinburgh, with all its narrow streets lined with imposing grey-stone buildings, you might be ready for some open spaces and green parkland. Holyrood park, just outside the city center, is the place to head.
|Arthur's Seat, covered in gorse, in Holyrood Park, photo by cyocum|
And this route will also pass by some of the most interesting buildings in town, along the Royal Mile on the way to the park. The only catch is that the route rises about 80 meters as it gently winds around the park, going up 2 peaks. If you can handle the climb, this is a wonderful run, and will reward you with some great vistas.
|Start of the run, at Hunter Square, photo by Kaddele|
Turn south, with the Bank Hotel on your right, and run straight down High Street, where it continues going downhill. You'll go past Cannongate on the left (where the street name itself changes to Cannongate) and the Storytelling Café. I love the ancient stone buildings that line the streets here, each one with its own unique character.
|Cannongate houses, photo by rojabro|
|The tollbooth, photo by Andrew Batram|
|Cannongate Kirk, photo by Dutch Simba|
|Holyrood Palace, photo by Colin J. Campbell|
Across the street, the large, futuristic building is the Scottish Parliament building. What a contrast...
|The Scottish Parliament, photo by wok|
The park was once the palace grounds, rocky promontories left over from an ancient volcano. The entrance street leads straight towards the cliffs of Salisbury Crags, where it ends at a roundabout. From here, the whole park is ringed by the loop-road in front of you, called Queen's Drive, which we'll take all the way around.
|The Salisbury Crags, photo by Jungleboy|
|The lawn path along Queen's Drive, photo by tigerweet|
|Holyrood Park road heading up past Arthur's Seat, photo by nexun chan|
|View back towards the crags, photo by Tr1xx|
|Eagle at Dunsapie Loch, photo by only alice|
Now, running downhill, the vista over the coastline to the northeast opens up before you.
When you get to the northern end of the park, the road turns to the left at another little pond, St. Margaret's Loch. There is a picturesque chapel ruins on the hill behind it, St. Anthony's.
|St. Anthony's chapel at sunset, photo by Adrian Hart|
Turn right at the roundabout, run past Parliament again and then turn left onto Cannongate once again, following the same route (uphill this time!) back to the start at Bridge Street.