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Deep Time Walk

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Walk 4.6 km through Holyrood Park, one metre for every million years of Earth history, through all the significant developments of the Earth, including the amazing story of evolution from early bacteria to today's biodiversity; modern humans appearing in the final million years allows us to reflect on our impact on the world's natural systems.

There has been a lot of new research in recent years that helps us understand more about the evolution of life on Earth and the mechanisms by which life impacts on Earth systems such as the composition of the atmosphere. These are huge topics that are hard for non-scientists to grasp, so this is an opportunity for a gentle introduction to the big themes.

It is also very relevant for contemporary issues such as climate change and resource use, as the activity very graphically illustrates how humans have been an active shaper of Earth processes in just a very short part of geological time.

Including a visit to the James Hutton Memorial Garden to introduce an Edinburgh context to the evolution of ideas about deep time.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

The core of the activity is walking 4.6km through Holyrood Park: so participants need a basic level of fitness to be able to take part. 

Content of Course

The walk will follow a 4.6km route through Holyrood Park. Along the way we will stop at key points in Earth history to discuss different aspects of the changing planet, including meteorite impacts, changing temperature and atmosphere concentration, evolution and extinctions.

Teaching method(s)

This activity gives people the opportunity to explore Earth history in an engaging and thought-provoking way, where the journey creates space for reflection and opens up possibilities for discussion about our relationship with the Earth.

The Deep Time Walk is based on an app which encourages people to walk through Earth history anywhere, at their own pace. The planned walk in Holyrood Park will use resources developed for the App, but will be “live” and participants will not need to download the App or use their phones during the activity.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course the student will have an understanding of Earth history and an appreciation of how humans are altering natural systems.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.