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7th August 2009 at 01:00

Teachers who have time left before the new term begins might want to take advantage of the free, guided "Arthur's Secrets" walks offered to the public (children must be eight or over) by Historic Scotland at Edinburgh's most famous landmark - Arthur's Seat.

The two-hour walks, in the company of a Holyrood Park ranger, take place every Wednesday afternoon, 1-3pm, during July and August, starting from the information centre near the Scottish Parliament. The benefit of a guided walk is that you come to appreciate this unique site even more; and may decide to take advantage of the Holyrood Park education service provided by Historic Scotland to nursery and primary schools. Using Arthur's Seat as a focus, classes get an introduction to geology, archaeology and wildlife.

The story of this spectacular natural visitor attraction began 350 million years ago when a volcano erupted, creating Arthur's Seat as one of its vents. Experts believe people settled in the area as long ago as 6,000 years, attracted by the volcanic soil which was easier to cultivate. Earlier visitors came for overnight or weekend stays to hunt, fish and gather fruit and seeds. The ridged cultivation terraces, which can still be seen today, were created by Bronze Age farmers 3,000 years ago, but the earliest architectural remains, of four Iron-Age forts, are reckoned to be 2,000 years old.

At one point, Arthur's Seat was a hive of commercial activity, which included sheep-rearing, milling and brewing and stone-quarrying. Prince Albert wanted to create a rustic thatched restaurant there, but the idea was objected to by local people who had begun to appreciate the area for its beauty.

T: 0131 652 8150.

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