Letter urges Historic Environment Scotland to reinstate access to Hutton’s Section

The Scottish geological community have written to Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, suggesting that the temporary fence closing off the Radical Road in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh should be moved to allow access to Hutton’s Section, Edinburgh’s most important geological site. James Hutton is known internationally as the founder of modern geology, and enthusiasts from across the UK and around the world come to Edinburgh to visit sites associated with James Hutton. This interest is likely to increase as we approach the tercentenary of Hutton’s birth in 2026. In addition the Park is used routinely for student field trips from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and many other institutions.

Following rockfall from Salisbury Crags in 2018, the Radical Road along the base of the crags has been closed. It is likely to remain closed for some time, as Historic Environment Scotland assess options for allowing safe access to this historic path. However, Hutton’s Section is close to the edge of this restricted area, on a section of Salisbury Crags that has been assessed as having a lower risk of rockfall. The letter from various geological organisations and interested individuals suggests that the temporary fence could be re-located to the north end of Hutton’s Section, so that there is unrestricted access to Hutton’s Section.


Hutton’s Section, located in the low cliff in the centre of the photo, is currently inaccessible, behind a temporary fence installed by Historic Environment Scotland to prevent access to the Radical Road. Photo: Angus Miller.