Edinburgh's historic Radical Road footpath below Salisbury Crags should be restored, say tour guides
Calls have been made for people to be allowed back to the Radical Road footpath below Salisbury Crags which is currently closed following rock falls.
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The steep path was a favourite walk for locals and visitors alike but also a key site in understanding the age of the planet – and now guides say access should be restored to let people see the spot where James Hutton, known as the father of geology, found proof in the layers of rock that the Earth was much older than his 18th century contemporaries believed.
The path was closed in September 2018 amid fears for public safety following a 50-tonne rock fall.
Geologist Angus Miller, who takes tours of the area, told the BBC that the fence closing the path had been erected tantalisingly close to the "extremely important" site known as Hutton's Section, near the south end of the Radical Road.
He said: "The fence could easily be moved 50 metres further along to make Hutton's Section accessible.”
He said the cliffs were lower in that section, which was set back from the path because of stone quarrying in the past.
"I understand the path has to be closed but there are different risks at different parts of the path.
"It is very frustrating not being able to show such an important site to the hundreds of geologists and tourists who come from around the world to see it."
Nick Kempe, an access campaigner and author of Parkswatchscotland, said Hutton's Section played "a crucially important role in the history of the earth sciences and attracts geologists from all over the world".
He said it also passed beneath a number of quarries that operated from the 16th century.
"The stone was used all over Edinburgh and was exported for a time to pave the streets of London," he said.
"The Radical Road is one of the most historic paths in Scotland in what is an outstanding setting.
"Why is a world class tourism attraction still closed?"
Historic Environment Scotland said it was examining information from specialists before deciding whether the path could be reopened.
In the meantime, it said barriers were in place to ensure that the public could not access "areas of significant risk".
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of park users.”