Every once in a while our lives are punctuated by shared events of extreme emotion; births, weddings and funerals see the coming together of fellow human beings and always involve consumption of alcohol and often a fight. But for me, a good wedding of a close friend is a moment to treasure and one that will fully and comprehensively offset any less happy gatherings.
So it was that we were invited to Edinburgh for quite the most exotic of weddings; a Greek Cypriot marrying a Scots lass. Two ancient and proud races known not least for their music, dance and drinking. Gay Gordons on a Bazouki – what’s not to like. Dancing instructions for both styles were not just simple but conveniently similar: “put your arms in the air and follow the crowd!”
The reception for 300 guests was held at Prestonfield House, built in 1687 by architect Sir William Bruce and the former home of Scotland’s Lord Provost. Today Prestonfield works as a 26 room hotel and oozes Scottish Rural charm while only a short taxi ride from the Royal Mile.
It sits at the heel of Arthur’s Seat, a rock outcrop girdled by what can only be described as a handy 5k running track known as “The Queens Drive” although I dont think she put her Saucony’s on and used it for intervals. Described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design” it rises above the city to a height of 250.5m (822 ft).
You can join it anywhere you like but there’s a car park and a natural start/finish line at about 11 o’clock on the roundabout nearest the Royal Holyrood Palace itself. And if you’re lucky enough to be staying at The Prestonfield you can join the loop at about 6 o’clock via Holyrood Park Road.
Loop though it is, it’s not flat. I’ve logged two routes round the hill, one longer and slightly easier (5k and only a 73 metre climb) and the other shorter but slightly higher to climb (3.5k and about 100metre climb). The views from either are, like Greek dancing, quite amazing.