South Queensferry, Edinburgh
A boat plies the waters between South Queensferry and Inchcolm - a large, occasionally inhabited island in the estuary. The boat takes you under both the Forth bridges, with great views of them and South Queensferry. The trip to Inchcolm is about 45 minutes, but the landscape is awe inspiring, as are the occasionally glimpses of seals and puffins. The boat can drop you off on the island or you can stay on and circle around it before returning back.
One tip: Don't go on a weekend if you can avoid it. Inchcolm is a popular wedding spot, and being on board the ferry with a huge wedding party really spoils the trip (they should run a separate ferry). On our first leg we were stuck on board with all the singing, shouting, kilted members of the party. They were all nice people - it's not their fault that I was trapped in my seat and couldn't get out to see any of the sights en route. Thankfully the boat was near empty after they got off, and the return leg was fantastic.
Also: Take some warm clothes. Even in the summer it can get a bit nippy out on the water.
A wonder of its time, and an icon of Scotland today, the Forth Bridge is a magnificent sight. It towers above the picturesque town of Queensferry and stretches out into the waters of the Firth of Forth. It was the longest cantilever bridge when it was built in the 19th century, and has only surpassed once since. Its length across the deep silty waters of the firth made it an engineering marvel. It's iconic status today has been reinforced by its inclusion in all kinds of media - the Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, Iain Banks's the Bridge, the classic Irn Bru advert "made in Scotland from girders" and even the video game Grand Theft Auto, which transplants the bridge to a different ocean and the replica city of San Andreas (San Francisco).
To see the bridge, take the train from Edinburgh to Dalmeny railway station and walk down the hill. Actually you can see the bridge from the station, but the best views are from below.
South Queensferry is the lower half of a two towns which in the past served as ferry ports for those wishing to cross the Firth of Forth. Legend has it the ferries were established to carry pilgrims north to St Andrews by Saint Margaret of Scotland. There are still ferries running this route today, but most traffic goes across either the magnificent Forth Bridge or the Forth Road Bridge.
South Queensferry is easily reached by train from Edinburgh in about 30 minutes (take the train to Dalmeny railway station). It has a delightful old town centre that stretches along the Firth of Forth with exceptional views of the water and bridges. You can also take a tour of the Firth of Forth from here, visiting or viewing the many islands.
One of the most spectacular man-made landmarks in Scotland is the Forth Rail Bridge. The bridge is 2.5 km long and the world’s first major steel bridge, with its gigantic girder spans of 521 m. It ranks as one of the great feats of civilization. It was begun in 1883 and formally completed on 4 March 1890.
It was constructed by Tancred–Arrol and robustly designed by civil engineers Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker in the aftermath of the Tay Bridge disaster*.
The bridge crosses the River Forth between South Queensferry and North Queensferry, and still carries the East Coast mainline railway north from Edinburgh to Perth and Dundee.
(*At approximately 7:15 p.m. on the stormy night of 28 December 1879, the central navigation spans of the Tay bridge collapsed into the Firth of Tay at Dundee, taking with them a train, 6 carriages and 75 souls to their fate.)
Forth Railway Bridge was opened in 1890 after 7 years in the building. At that time it was the biggest bridge in the world and the first major steel bridge containing almost 54,000 tons of steel. It was quite an engineering feat and expected to ‘last ‘forever’.
The bridge spans 2.5 kms and has a double track. It was featured in Alfred Hitchcocks movie "The Thirty-Nine Steps".
West of Edinburgh, spanning the Firth of Forth between South Queensferry and North Queensferry.
Forth Road Bridge is a big suspension bridge built over Firth of Forth. It was built between 1958 – 1964 and as it was opened the car ferries ceased to operate. The towers of the bridge are over 150 meters high and the mainspan is 1008 metres long and the sidespans are each 408 metres long.
It is possible to walk over the bridge (I didn't) but it is often very windy. For cars going north a toll must be paid.
South Queensferry is a picturesque village between the two Forth Bridges. It is situated on the south shore of Firth and Forth (Forth River) and from here ferries used to cross the river, before the bridges were built. In the village you will find some shops, cafes and pubs. There is a museum, but it is only open a few days a week (it was closed when I was there). In the vicinity there are two Houses to visit, Hopetoun House and Dalmeny House. April to October you can take a ferry over to Incholm Island to visit the ruins of the abbey.
South Queensferry lies 13 km west of Edinburgh city centre and is within the official boundaries of the city
Much more recent than the rail bridge, the road bridge is a suspension bridge opened in 1964, another fine piece of engineering. Better views than the rail bridge whilst crossing it, and you can walk or cycle across (which I have never got round to doing yet). Tolls (currently 80p for cars, I think) only operate northbound.
Viewed from South Queensferry, the Forth Rail Bridge, is, as you can see from the picture, a marvel of Victorian engineering. Best seen from the outside, as when you travel over it, all you really see is a lot of girders!
Railways stations at either end are Dalmeny (south side) and North Queensferry (north). Services cross the bridge from Edinburgh to Fife/Perth/Dundee/Aberdeen.
A small but beautiful village in the suburb of Edinburgh city .
The port / habour down at Leith walk , where you can see the Royal Yacht Britannia , Ocean Drive .
For more info , please check out my off the beaten path travelogue .
One of the many rocky islands that dot the Firth of Forth. Incholm Island is, now, uninhabited except for the Keeper of the Island and Incholm Abbey. Founded in 1123, it is the best preserved medieval monastic complex in Scotland. Most of the surviving structures date from the 13-15th centuries. Cruise boats leave Hawes pier in South Queensferry - approximately 3 hour round trip. As well as the Abbey, you are likely to see plenty of birds and nesting grey seals.
Built in the 19th century, the railway bridge that spans the Firth of Forth is an extraordinary structure, whether seen froma distance or, even better, from immediately below it on the shoreline. It is constantly being painted - by the time it has been finished, it is need to start again and has become a common metaphor - as never ending as the painting of the Firth of Forth bridge.
Take a bus to South Queensferry (the town on the southern shore) from Edinburgh and combine with a trip out to Incholm Island (see next of the beaten track) and lunch at one of the many pubs.
the firth of forth bridge... built sometime around the year 1880, the construction of which was considered a feat in itself. its one of the most distinct looking cantilever style bridges in the world.