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Edinburgh geologist calls for historic path to be reopened after rock fall

shutterstock salisbury crags

Angus Miller, an Edinburgh-based geologist, has called for a footpath to reopened after it was closed in September following a 50t rock fall.

The footpath round Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh has been inaccessible for six months after Historic Environment Scotland closed it while a safety inspection was carried out.

Miller has said that the path can be reopened sooner and the risk of further rock falls is very low.

“I completely appreciate the problem that Historic Environment Scotland have with sites such as Salisbury Crags and the Castle Rock, these are eroding natural features that a lot of people walk past every day, and it is appropriate, given that rock falls are reported to be increasing, that the risk is carefully assessed and reduced where possible.

“The problem is that Hutton’s Section at Salisbury Crags can be accessed by a path that doesn’t go anywhere near the cliffs, and the section itself is very stable and only about 3m high.

“The risk of rockfall on this section of Salisbury Crags is very low, and it is frustrating that one of Edinburgh’s most important historical science sites is closed off and inaccessible, and has been for six months.”

Miller believes that Edinburgh attracts geologists who would like see where James Hutton, who developed the theory of uniformitarianism and is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Geology”, lived and worked.

“Edinburgh attracts geologists from around the world, and a big reason that many individual geologists and groups come here is to have the chance to follow in the footsteps of James Hutton and visit the sites such as Siccar Point and Salisbury Crags, to see for themselves the evidence Hutton used to support his ground-breaking theories.

“Many of these people will be visiting Holyrood Park in the next few weeks and months and will be very disappointed and puzzled to see access restricted.”

Historic Environment Scotland have said that public safety is a priority and the path will remain closed until they have taken advice from geotechnical engineers.

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said: “The Radical Road and adjacent desire paths that lead to this area were closed to the public in September 2018 after a significant daytime rock fall when over 50t of rock landed on and around the pedestrian pathway.

“There have been a number of substantial rock falls from Salisbury Crags onto the Radical Road and surrounding area over the last few years with increasing regularity. Following the rock fall in September 2018, and with the continued risk of further rock falls, HES took the decision to close this path and adjacent desire routes to public access. These routes will remain closed while we assess the situation with advice from our geotechnical engineers.”

“We are very conscious of the significance of Hutton’s Section and the desire for public access to it. However at present, visitor safety is our main concern. We anticipate an update regarding the rock faces in Holyrood Park being provided by our geotechnical engineers in March, at which point we will review the situation further.”

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