The History of Leith

June 2, 2010

Close up view of Salsbury Craigs


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(c) John Arthur

The Salisbury Crags are a series of 46-metre (151 ft) cliffs at the top of a subsidiary spur of Arthurs Seat which rise in the middle of Holyrood Park. Below the foot of the cliffs is a large and steep talus slope falling to the floor of Holyrood Park with a track known as the Radical Road running in the space between the two. This track was given its name after it was paved in the aftermath of the Radical War of 1820, using the labour of unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland at the suggestion of Walter Scott.

The cliffs are formed from steep dolerite and columnar basalt and have a long history of rock climbing on their faces starting from the earliest days of the sport and leading to a number of traditional climbing and sport climbing routes being recorded. In recent years the park rangers (previously under the auspices of the Royal Estate and now Historic Scotland, who have taken over management of the park) have attempted to regulate access to the cliffs for climbing. One now needs to apply for a permit, free of charge, at the education centre to the east of the park in order to be allowed to climb. There is still some activity, though most of it is bouldering rather than free climbing. The finest areas are in the two quarries, although it is only in the south quarry that climbing is still permitted at this time. The south quarry contains the Black Wall, a well-known bouldering testpiece in the Edinburgh climbing scene. for more click here

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