Saturday, 11 February 2017

Queensferry. North Queensferry. Forth Road Bridge Walk. Inch Garvie.

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A trip this time to Queensferry, the small historic town lying on the south bank of the Firth of Forth just west of Edinburgh. Some of the buildings and structures here date back to the 1600s and 1700s along with several others on the North Queensferry side. An ancient ferry dating from medieval times used to cross this wide expanse of water from here to connect and link two large and important areas of Scotland together, namely the fertile farmlands and capital city of Edinburgh with the equally fertile and venerated Kingdom of Fife. As such it was a vital crossing point, saving a long and tiring detour inland which made it the busiest crossing in Scotland at its peak. This ferry, in various forms, ran from the 11th century to the mid 1960s according to the info boards near the waterfront car park.
You also get a magnificent view of the Forth Railway Bridge from here which was built in the late 1800s and is one of the most famous bridges in the world from the moment it was constructed along with San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge. It has featured in the classic thriller film The 39 Steps.
The small island of Inch Garvie, which was heavily fortified during both world wars with gun emplacements, suffered the same fate as the other nearby rocky islands in the Forth, being near the capital city and therefore a very handy location to strand infected people and other undesirables. Through the centuries it has been a defensive fortress, a prison, a quarantine hospital,and a plague island. Even today it has a lonely, haunted appearance although much loved by assorted gulls and other seabirds due to its relative, people free, isolation.
After a wander around the interesting and historic town of Queensferry and a look at the various shops, myself and Alan decided to walk across the nearby Forth Road  Bridge which is for car traffic but also has a dedicated cycle track and pedestrian walkway along both outer edges. This would take us to North Queensferry on the Fife side and also give us great views of the area and the two other large bridges here.
Walking across the Forth Road Bridge, high above the water below, with the adjacent cycle lane clearly visible. From this elevated vantage point the incoming tidal sea is a few hundred feet straight down with the Forth Rail Bridge to the right and the new road bridge being built and nearly completed to the left. It was a murky day with rain and wind in the west but at least it was dry and fairly settled here on the east coast, 10 miles from Edinburgh.
Assorted craft on a zoomed photo passing under the bridge.
A look at the new Forth Road Bridge which is due to open very shortly in May 2017. Kayakers paddling towards North Queensferry.
A distant view of the new bridge from a hillside above Linlithgow.  This is currently the world's longest 3 tower, cable stayed, bridge. The new bridge is also the tallest bridge in the UK thanks to the height of its support towers and the other road bridge we walked across, built in the 1960s, was Europe's longest suspension bridge at that time.
Usual internet driven padlock craze which is damaging and defacing bridges world wide. The first time I noticed this occurring I thought it was fairly harmless and cute but since then I've seen it on practically every interesting bridge and structure across Scotland, even in highly inappropriate places well out from civilization in remote nature.... similar to thousands of unnecessary additional cairns built by individuals all over the countryside and in mountain areas. Some lucky folk must have a lot of spare money to toss away as good padlocks aren't cheap but it also highlights the strong pull of the human herd mentality who instinctively feel a need to always band together into tribes where-ever they go. This explains our inbuilt fear throughout history of other different tribes entering our space and the illogical way certain politicians can so easily tap into those primitive instincts over countless generations to create any perceived 'enemy' they wish-  be it 'Islam' 'Muslims' 'Immigration' 'Red Indians' 'Communists'  'Chinese' 'Jews' or 'Catholics'. Often the real genuine threat lies elsewhere. Well... it would, wouldn't it.
North Queensferry. Smaller than (South) Queensferry but no less historic and interesting with a low tide coastal walk which took us round this bay to the seal centre and Scotland's biggest Aquarium, Deep Sea  World.
We didn't go into that as I've been before a few years ago (£15 per adult in 2017 for D.S.W.) but we did visit the small adjacent pools and flooded quarry above it where they look after rescued and damaged seals until they are well enough to be returned to the Firth of Forth which has colonies of grey and common seals.
Adult common seal here I think, in yawning pose.
A more active juvenile in the water in one of the rescue pools.
The Rosyth to Zeebrugge (sea port in Belgium) ferry. A direct link to Europe for both cargo trade and passengers that started up a couple of years ago on a trial basis but echoing this coast's former strong and lucrative sailing connections with various European ports on the other side of the North Sea.
A much smaller craft out for a training run. The Queensferry rowing crew in action on a cold winter day.
Coming into land at the start of evening light with a growing winter sunset over the Pentland Hills.
The railway workers bothy high up on the Forth Railway Bridge, only available to official maintenance crews sadly, via a long ladder and gangways, as the public are not allowed to walk on this one.
Port Edgar marina from the road bridge.
Road Bridge tunnel leading back to the car. An interesting and unusual walk. 3 to 5 hours duration  but you could easily extend that further by continuing along the signposted North Queensferry coastal path into Inverkeithing then returning along the B981 for a very varied circular route.
Heading back along the motorway to the west coast with a burning winter sunset above Glasgow.


Keeping with the East Coast theme here's bike adventurer Danny MacAskill going from Edinburgh to Skye taking in Inch Garvie, The Firth of Forth Bridges, east coast fishing towns,  and other famous sights around this area in a visual extravaganza. You don't need to be into cycling to enjoy this stunning short video journey. Best watched full screen.

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11 comments:

Kay G. said...

I would love to see that bridge, the photos of it look amazing.

I never liked those stupid locks on bridges. I love it when the world comes around to my way of thinking. :-)

Anabel Marsh said...

I didn't know you could walk across the Forth Road Bridge, I'd quite like to do that though the rail bridge would be much more awesome. Don't like the locks either - if they split up, do they come back and remove them?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
Fellow southern girl Ashley Judd used to live in this area when she stayed in Scotland so I bet she's travelled across the Firth of Forth a few times. You can walk across the road bridge one way then get the train back to South Queensferry for one stop and cross it that way.
Read recently that the original lock bridge in Paris that started this daft craze is falling apart under the weight of thousands of padlocks so they are now replacing the metal railings with clear plastic solid sheets. It also costs councils thousands of pounds to remove them in an era of already tight budgets and squeezed public services as most folk throw away the keys into the water when they lock them. This year it will be the turn of some other daft mass hypnosis event no doubt that comes into fashion.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I think you would like it and there is also a nice country and beach walk through the grounds of the nearby Dalmeny House Estate to Barnbougle Castle and Cramond. Lovely mature woodlands and wide quiet tracks. There used to be a foot ferry here across the River Almond but not now so you have to return to South Queensferry again. See previous comment answer for a circular two bridge day outing.
If they split up I very much doubt it.

Linda W. said...

Beautiful bridges, both the old and the new!

Rosemary said...

Were you able to see whether the nano paint technology recently used on the bridge is working?
Hate those despoiler locks on bridges - they have actually damaged some of the historic bridges across the R.Seine in Paris.
I didn't realise that there was a walkway over the bridge but it makes sense.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda,
The Forth Road Bridge walk seems increasingly popular as you can walk down one side for the views then back up the other side for a different outlook.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
New paint is supposed to last 'at least 25 years' so probably too early to tell yet.
Luckily, there are only four small panels on the Forth Road Bridge, like the one in the photo, where you can put padlocks in numbers otherwise it would be plastered as well. I know of other smaller bridges though where the original intended beauty of the metalwork has been thoughtlessly smothered into a conglomerate ugly mess of padlocks end to end but I suppose that's progress- just like ripping apart what's left of the planet and killing any animals around in the hunt for rare metals to build new smart phones and certain technology we don't really need in our lives that actually makes us poorer and less content with our existence.
A video on that cheery topic next week :o)

Carol said...

Tried to comment on this before I went away but, after 10 mins or so trying to get past the 'kapcha', I had to go to bed! I think I said I didn't like the padlock craze - first I've heard about that - don't think we have it here yet and hope we never get it!

Also I said that we'd done a field trip under the Forth Railway bridge to see stromatolites - very interesting it was too!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
When I first noticed the padlock craze it was just a handful of locks that looked quite sweet hanging on a metal bridge in a city park but now they are getting intrusive and are everywhere like metal locusts. Unless councils remove them, at considerable expense using taxpayers money, they will be there for decades until they eventually rot off.
You've out obscured me there. I had no idea stromatolites existed in Scotland as I only knew about the famous ones in Australia. I'll need to look out for them next time.

Carol said...

The stromatolites are probably about 1/4 to 1/2 mile east of the bridge from what I remember. I'm sure there'll be something online somewhere about them.

That padlocks craze is like the silly memorial cairns springing up everywhere by all and sundry - and also like the roadside memorials. They annoy me too as they're just litter really. The place for memorials is at the graveyard in my book!