Walking with James Hutton through Time

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Walking with James Hutton through Time

Tuesday, 19 February, 2019 - 14:00 to 16:00
Meet at the Netherbow Wellhead Trunk's Close 55 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1SR
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Everything changes, nothing changes. In the 200 years since James Hutton walked the streets of Edinburgh, the city has changed beyond all recognition but the underlying landscape has hardly changed at all. A reflection on time, and how the landscape of Edinburgh has influenced how we think about the world.

James Hutton, the father of modern geology, was born within the city walls and spent his life farming, experimenting, thinking, and exploring Scotland. For 30 years until his death in 1797, he lived on St John's Hill, and walked frequently in Holyrood Park. His study of the natural processes that he could observe in the landscape, and the rocks of Scotland, led to the development of a remarkable new theory that proposed that the Earth was an ancient planet where slow changes worked over immense amounts of time to create the landscape of today. His work paved the way for the development of the science of geology and changed forever how people think about the Earth.

This walk will start at the gates of the old city, and take us through streets walked by James Hutton, past the site of his house at St John's Hill, and in to Holyrood Park to visit one of the natural rock formations that he studied. Along the way, we will reflect on the city then and now, the ways in which the character of the city of Edinburgh comes from the spectacular landscape of the city centre, and how the city influences our own journeys through time.


We will meet at the Netherbow Wellhead, at Trunk's Close, 55 High Street, EH1 1SR (this is just up the Royal Mile from John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre).

The one-way walking distance is 2km, which takes us to Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park with some climbing following a grassy path in the Park. From the end of the walk, you can make your own way to nearby bus stops, or we can retrace our steps back to the starting point.

This walk is on pavements and paths with some moderate slopes and steps. In some places, we will walk on grassy paths although there is a nearby paved alternative.

The route can be modified to avoid steps entirely. Please advise when you book whether you would require this.

What to bring

  • Depending on the weather, wear warm and waterproof clothes and good walking shoes
  • All other materials and stimulus will be provided.


Angus Miller

‘Geowalks’ is Angus Miller’s business and passion. It began with family holidays in the Highlands and islands of Scotland, and a Higher Geology course I n Lanarkshire. This was the start of an interest that led Angus to study geology at the University of Edinburgh in 1991. He spent a year volunteering with Scottish Conservation Projects in the Highlands, before starting a PhD at Durham University, investigating small earthquakes of the Hengill volcano in Iceland.

Back in Edinburgh, Geowalks began on Arthur's Seat on 1 April 1998, using the story of this local volcano to explain the landscape of Edinburgh and how this has influenced the development of the city.

Angus teaches several short courses for the Centre for Open Learning at the University of Edinburgh, and lead geology walks for the City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education Programme.


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