Calton Hill


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The year, 1724. In a land where most of the landscape was held by the gentry, the town council of Edinburgh did a curious thing: they bought a hill. One of the seven volcanic hills within the city limits, Calton Hill is an ancient cinder cone, steep-sided, with fabulous views of the Firth of Forth, Arthur's Seat, and the city of Edinburgh itself. It became one of Britain's first public parks, a curiosity of its time. For "the pleasure and amusement, and the health, of the inhabitants of this most crowded city," a notable doctor, David Hume, recommended a footpath be built around the park. In 1775, this broad path opened, providing amazing views as it spiraled gently around Calton Hill. Now known as Hume's Walk, it was Scotland's – and Britain's – first public footpath, the precursor to a vast network of public paths, walks, and ways throughout the whole of Britain. We were fortunate to be staying right next to Calton Hill while in Edinburgh and stumbled across this historic site, one of the most significant in the history of modern footpaths, while – appropriately – out for a walk. Edinburgh is crowded with sites of historic importance, so Hume's Walk doesn't take major billing in tourist brochures and guidebooks. But for nearly 240 years, it's been well worth the walk.


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