"Abbey, Calton, Castle Grand,
Southward see St Leonard Stand,
St Johns and Sciennes as two are given
and Multrees makes Seven"
Asides from both cities being home to some of the worlds finest cuisine and enjoying year-round sunshine, what is it that Rome and Edinburgh share in common? The answer is that both cities are built on Seven Hills. While the Seven Hills of Rome are a much more cemented idea, thanks to all being positioned within the cities walls, the Seven Hills of Edinburgh are a more freeform and debatable collection. Despite the debate surrounding whether the Pentlands and Allemuir Hill should be included in the list, it is 'The Seven' which has become associated with Edinburgh, in part thanks to the old rhyme above.
The Seven Hills of Edinburgh have become so widely known that they are one of the most popular walks within Edinburgh and offer a one day adventure for people of all levels of ability. With no time limit, set route or other constrictions you can say you have conquered 'The Seven' by simply reaching the top of Arthurs Seat, Castle Rock, Calton Hill, Costorphine Hill, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill and Craiglockhart Hill.
To celebrate this adventure on our doorstep and to encourage us all to try a little more outdoors we have teamed up with the brilliant guys at Adventure Patch to create an exclusive Seven Hills of Edinburgh patch which will be available for free to any customer who can show us proof of completing the Seven Hills! Whether you come into the store with a Strava map, a Coaster from the famous race or just photos of you atop the seven peaks, we have 100 patches available to proudly announce you have conquered Edinburgh's unique walking challenge. Read a little more about the Seven Hills walk below, find out more about the world famous race and discover the Adventure Patch in our latest blog.
The Seven Hills route is open to interpretation and takes in the Seven Hills, which sit within the boundary of modern Edinburgh. The most traditional route starts at Calton Hill and winds an anti-clockwise route around the city before ending at either Arthurs Seat or, for the full experience returning back to Calton Hill. This route takes in around 27km with over 700m of climbing and for a standard walker would take between 5-6 hours (and then plenty of time to recover afterwards!).
The beauty of 'The Seven' is that the route you take is entirely of your own choice. Even those competing within the official race have no designated directions to get from point A to point B, and the only stipulation is they must complete the hills in the order set out by event organisers. The beauty of this setup means that year after year runners are discovering shortcuts and quicker routes which allow them to get from hill to hill quicker than before.
Many of us would not know of the Seven Hills of Edinburgh without the annual race, which has been running since 1980 and has grown to become a mainstay in the Edinburgh running calendar and something of an institution within the capital. Originally organised by David Salmon and Alan Lawson, it is Alan who continues to organise the event to this day with a dedication which highlights the importance of this event for the city. Our founder Caspar Odqvist's name can even be found in the runners records with a time that would put most of the current Nordic staff to shame.
Taking place on one Sunday in June (in 2023 the event is held on the 18th June) the event is split into two sections; The Race (designed for the most serious of runners) and The Challenge (for the mere mortal runners among us). Since the run's inception in 1980 thousands have taken part and helped keep this event such a special occasion on the Edinburgh calendar. Along with the local runners, there is also a contingent of Dutch runners who have been attending since 2009 and have become a core part of the modern Seven Hills Race. With the Dutch Runners joining forces with locals for a gathering the evening before, it was in 2013 that organisers recognised this close bond and introduced a trophy for the 'Best Dutch Runner' which is keenly contested every year.
With two main trophies up for grabs alongside two Vets trophies - all of which are made from a piece of Arthurs Seat's volcanic rock, there have been some incredible runs through the course in its near 40 year history. Incredibly - despite the advances in nutrition, footwear, training and recovery, the record for the race has held firm since 1987 when Mike Lindsay ran the course in an incredible 1hour, 32minutes. Considering it takes most of us closer to 6 hours to walk the course, this is a superhuman achievement.
Each runner who completes the race or the challenge is awarded a drinks coaster with a new design printed annually. Having been the memento presented to runners since 1991, these are a valuable souvenir for the participants and some houses in Edinburgh now have an impressive collection of coasters which document years of running 'The Famous Seven'. Events like this race are what make cities more than a place to stay and encourage and foster a community spirit which is heartening to see thriving 40 years since its inception - the work of Alan Lawson and his small team is to be applauded.
Nordic Outdoor Seven Hills Patch
To celebrate the opportunity the Seven Hills gives Edinburgh residents to challenge themselves, try something new, or even push themselves to their physical limits, we teamed up with the wonderful folk at Adventure Patch Company to create a unique patch to celebrate this walk. Showcasing the most famous of the hills, Castle Rock, we produced 100 of these patches to be offered free to customers who take the challenge on, no matter if they run it in two hours or walk it over two weeks. As a company we want to champion being outside and enjoying the nature and adventure which is on our very doorstep.
If trail running is your passion or something you'd love to get involved in visit our St James store to view the new 66 North trail running range or visit our website here. We are also teamimg up with 66 North and Brae Running for a community run on Sunday 25th June, leaving the St James store at 9am. You can contact the St James store for details on 0131 3747226
To co-incide with the 2023 race we will be releasing the Nordic Outdoor Seven Hills of Edinburgh patch on Sunday the 18th June. There will be 50 patches available in each location and to get your hands on one you simply need to show our staff some proof of completing all seven hills - no matter the time period! Whether you have a Strava map of your walk, an official Seven Hills coaster, or just a photo of you at the summit of each, you can head in and claim your limited edition Seven Hills patch.
Nordic Outdoor Seven Hills patch will be available for free in our Bruntsfield and St James stores from 18th June 2023. To learn more about the Seven Hills Race please visit their website here and if you can support SportsAid Scotland, who are the race partner here. The 2023 race starts at 9.45am on Calton Hill and we encourage those in Edinburgh to go and support the runners! For many years now, Blackford Hill has also been a popular viewing point for the race.