Prince Albert’s 1844 reforms made the Holyrood Park road network as we know it today, adding a circular route for carriages around Arthur’s Seat later called Queen’s Drive.
The roads in Holyrood Park are not part of the City of Edinburgh road network and are outwith the maintenance and control of the City of Edinburgh Council. Instead, the roads along with the rest of Holyrood Park is under the ownership and care of the Scottish Ministers and managed through Historic Environment Scotland (HES) as a Property in Care. According to their own resources, HES receive no direct funding for the upkeep of the Park roads.
HES has the authority to implement motor vehicle closures to most roads when required or requested. HES may open or close roads at any time in the interest of safety, maintenance or to facilitate organised events.
To facilitate the road closures, there are gates at the five motor vehicle entrances: Dukes Walk (north east), Holyrood Gait (north west), Horse Wynd (north west), Holyrood Park Road (south west) and Old Church Lane (south east).
Prior to spring 2020, all roads in the park (except the High Road and access to car parks) were closed to vehicles every Sunday.
During the Spring 2020 coronavirus lockdown, the Sunday road closures were suspended for 11 weeks while the High Road was closed to motor vehicles at all times. The High Road closure was at first due to the annual toad migration in March and early April, but HES continued the road closure after the toad migration ended.
From June 2020, all roads in Holyrood Park were closed to motor vehicles on both Saturday and Sunday, 8:30am to 6pm. In September 2020, HES announced winter hours for road closures with the roads closing to vehicles on Saturday and Sunday, 8:30am to 3pm.
The road network is also closed for many events and holidays during the year: Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years Day, Edinburgh Marathon, marches, etc.
As a Royal Park, Holyrood Park is protected under the framework of The Parks Regulations Acts, 1872 to 1974, The Holyrood Park Regulations 1971 and subsequent amendments.
The Holyrood Park Regulations 1971 effectively prohibit commercial vehicles as well as vehicles with more than 7 passengers. Taxis are permitted to use park roads but are not allowed to pick up fares within the park. HES distribute annual permits to coaches to use the park roads for tourism; these permits do not allow access through the Low Road to Duddingston Village.
The Holyrood Park Amendment Regulations 2005 instituted parking charges at Broad Pavement car park.
Who decides what happens in Holyrood Park?
While Holyrood Park remains a royal park in name, it is not under the management of the Royal Parks in England or the monarch.
Holyrood Park is owned by the Scottish Ministers and managed by Historic Environment Scotland as a Property in Care. This means Historic Environment Scotland make all operational decisions and fund all operations in the Park, including road management.
Historic Environment Scotland is overseen by Fiona Hyslop MSP in her capacity as Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture.
Historic Environment Scotland also meetings regularly with City of Edinburgh councillors and maintains close links with emergency services.