Edinburgh visitors to iconic Calton Hill landmark demand 'protect us from cars'

Campaigners are calling for stronger enforcement of rules banning cars from driving up Edinburgh’s iconic Calton Hill.

Members of Calton Hill Conservation Trust have strong concerns about the open access barrier on Calton Hill Drive, and called on Edinburgh Council to shut it by October.

A statement read: “Calton Hill is a historic site of national and international importance…Calton Hill Drive is only open to authorised vehicles; yet the barrier gate has been left open for many years, and general traffic is free to drive up the hill at all hours.

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“The current unlimited vehicle access poses an unacceptable danger to pedestrians, particularly children, and wheelers. The lack of a safe footpath and limited space for passing vehicles further compounds these risks.

“Unauthorised vehicles, at all times of day and night, bring up items resulting in litter and anti-social behaviour.

“The Calton Hill Conservation Trust ask the City of Edinburgh to take action to set a date for closing the barrier to general unauthorised traffic of no later than 1 October 2024,” the organisation added.

Edinburgh Live previously reported on residents’ anger when motorists flocked to Calton Hill to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, parking dozens of cars in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Following the Calton Hill Conservation Trust’s call for action, Edinburgh Live headed up to find out what people thought of vehicle access to the area.

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Visitors Mr and Mrs Rennie said that it should be a place for walking, rather than driving. Mr Rennie, said: “Absolutely not, it’s a historic place. Cars shouldn’t be allowed up, everybody can walk.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Rennie added: “I think that part of it actually is the walk up, to get to a certain height and see the views. Sitting in a car to do that is not quite [the same]…I would say part of the experience of coming up here is the walk up.”

Another visitor, Michael, 35, said: “I think in an ideal world, maybe electric vehicles, vehicles that are non-harming to the environment. Certainly restrictions in some form…Because naturally you’re going to need work vans, etc. to do contracted work.

“With it being a World Heritage Site, it needs to be protected for as long as it possibly can,” added Michael.

Molly and Gabriel, visitors from the United States who are planning to move to the UK, believe that the site should be preserved and traffic restricted.

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Molly said: “[It should be] more pedestrian. Couldn’t they have a golf cart shuttle for disabled folks? …And just put up some pillars so no cars could get through.”

Adrienne and Steve Mifsud, who are visiting Edinburgh from Malta, also gave their thoughts on the matter.

Steve said: “I think the whole point of the area here is to have some space to wind down, relax, and enjoy nature in its purest. Look around and look over the city and over the hills around.”

Adrienne added: “Obviously having a car and coming with your own vehicle is always the best…so I do get why it might be inconvenient for some people.

“However, what we noticed about the charm of Edinburgh is it’s a bus link city, but it still has that unique charm about it. So maybe the removal of cars might actually conserve the charm,” she said.