CAMPAIGNERS today marked the fifth anniversary of Edinburgh’s Radical Road closure with an urgent call for Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to “see sense”.

The Radical Road runs along Salisbury Crags at Arthur's Seat. It is one of the most popular ways up the extinct volcano, yet five years on, it remains blocked and ringed by fencing.

Stakeholders including Ramblers Scotland, Cockburn Association, Edinburgh Geological Society, Mountaineering Scotland and ScotWays are urging HES to make a more holistic assessment of risks.

They want HES, who shut the iconic 200-year-old path due to concerns about rockfall, to weigh the risk of rockfall injury against the harm they say the closure causes to the economy, landscape, tourism and people’s health and wellbeing.

Leaders of these groups met at the path to call for urgent HES action and to discuss their options. They agreed to begin running their own process to consult those affected by the closure of Radical Road and that HES will be invited.

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Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy said: “It is farcical that Historic Environment Scotland has failed to re-open the Radical Road, following half a decade of missed deadlines and broken promises.

"It is a national embarrassment that the body tasked with caring for and promoting Scotland’s historic environment has left this iconic 200-year-old path shut away behind ugly fences for five years, with no end in sight.

“HES must immediately see sense and stop managing this world-famous geological feature like a crumbling historic building. Residents and tourists should be advised of the risks then allowed to make informed decisions, like everywhere else in Scotland.”

ScotWays chair Katharine Taylor said: “The Radical Road is a recorded right of way. There is a process which should be followed before closing a right of way, but this path was blocked unilaterally without using formal procedures and there has been little engagement since.

“We acknowledge that HES has an obligation to ensure public safety, but landowners and managers in Scotland also have a legal duty and responsibility not to obstruct or deny public access unnecessarily. It is very disappointing that a national agency has closed a popular right of way in our capital city, right next to our Parliament building.

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"If it can happen here, what protection is there for other, less well-known rights of way?”

The campaigners say that during face-to-face meetings in summer last year, HES committed to publishing a park management plan by autumn 2022 and to keep communicating with stakeholders.

Since then, they say, there has been no update to the campaign partners.

Cockburn Association assistant director James Garry added: “The Radical Road is just one issue of many to be considered as part of a much overdue revised management plan for Holyrood Park as a whole.”

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland: “In line with our statutory obligations we acted to manage the risk identified with the input of our geotechnical engineers and temporarily restricted access to the Radical Road. From 2017-2020, there were at least 82 rock fall incidents, ranging in size, with the majority either small or small to medium rocks.

“Two incidents have involved large or very large rocks. Since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we have not actively monitored rock fall incidents at the Radical Road due to the path being closed to the public, however, we are aware of at least two rock falls.

“After temporarily restricting access, we undertook an initial outline options appraisal. We were subsequently requested to review elements of our rock risk management approach by a statutory authority.

"This took much longer than anticipated and was interrupted by COVID and the need to respond to high-level masonry challenges across our wider estate, which we have been working on at speed.

“We intend to have discussions with a range of stakeholders once we have a proposal to discuss that has been endorsed. Any management intervention taken here will likely require consents under the planning system so there will be a number of opportunities for stakeholders and the public to engage. Our desire is to enable public access if this can be done safely.”