Monday, September 19, 2011

Conquering Arthur's Seat: A Hero's Story

Day dawned over a cloudy Scottish sky. The air smelled of victory, and I knew that this day would be a day for triumph.

Yes, my friends, I climbed Arthur's Seat. For those of you who have not visited Edinburgh (yet), Arthur's Seat is a large hill (or small mountain, depending on your prospective) in the middle of the city. This past Sunday, the Hill Walking Club (yes, we have one of those here) led a trip up the hill, and I was lucky (and brave) enough to join them. (There were lots of parenthetical statements in that paragraph.)

We were not the only group trying to conquer the mountain that day, dear readers. Oh no. Like a parade, 100 of my closest friends and I began our ascent.

See them snaking up the hill there?

The going was slow at first. The hill has stone steps stuck in the dirt up the side. I use the word "steps" loosely, because while they were clearly placed there by humans, they are very uneven and irregularly spaced. I realized on the ascent that I am tragically out of shape. Perhaps this can be cured with a few more walks up to Arthur's Seat. We shall see. About 3/4 of the way up we stopped for a sitting break and some lovely pictures.

Behold the majesty!
The last bit of the way to the very top was a bit of a free-for-all scramble, where the stairs are gone and you find your own freaking way up there, you wimp. You want to get to the top, you have to earn it.

From the very top, you can see the whole of Edinburgh. It was really quite lovely. I didn't realize how big the city was, as I only get to see a bit on my occasional walks about town. I felt quite accomplished there on the top. But then, looking into the distance, we saw that rainclouds were approaching, so we decided to begin the descent. This is where the real adventure began.

As we began to make our way back down the man-made stone steps, small drops of rain began to fall. Now, I am not one to be deterred by a bit of moisture from the sky. After all, I'm a grown-ass woman. Unfortunately, my defiant disdain of the rain did not keep it from making the rocks slippery as all get out. Despite the awesome, hardcore hiking boots I was wearing (unlike the non-planners who chose to wear TOMS to climb the mountain), I still found it incredibly difficult to keep my footing. At one point, I fell on my bum (no, I will not show you the bruise), but the worst was yet to come.

Near the bottom, I lost my footing again, but this time I reached out for a bush to catch myself. As ill luck would have it, the bush I grabbed was of the prickly variety, so instead of lessening the impact of my fall, I made things much worse. My arm was scratched and pricked all the way to the elbow, and my hand was punctured no less than six times, each of which puncture drew blood. I also ended up with a couple of splinters that I had to remove later. Needless to say, by the time I reached the bottom, I was a hot mess.*

But I prevailed. I wasn't about to let some jerk of a bush keep me from attending the after-climb party at a local pub, where I cleaned myself up and enjoyed some deliciously free sandwiches.

Today I still bear the marks of my misadventure, and my quads are a bit sore, but I feel incredibly accomplished. And also incredibly disdainful of those people who were waiting for the elevator when I came home.

Continue scrolling down if you would like to see some of the vistas that can be viewed from Arthur's Seat.

*I learned today that some of my British friends may not know what a "hot mess" is. I generally define it like this:

Her whole being is a definition

1 comment:

  1. Haha, what a great adventure! Take care of yourself, but it sounds like you are having a lovely time :)