Having been to the same school as one of the two engineers who designed it (Sir Benjamin Baker), I have always had a special affection for what, three years ago, was voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder, the truly remarkable and iconic Forth Bridge.
Travelling over it by train on a clear day gives fantastic view of the Firth of Forth looking east and the two road bridges to the west, but it is only by walking over the original Forth Road Bridge that you can fully appreciate its magnificence.
So for an awesome half-day excursion from the Scottish capital, I can highly recommend buying a day return from Waverley station to North Queensferry (£5.80 or £3.85 with a railcard) and then taking a 75-minute walk over the Forth Road Bridge to the delightful town of South Queensferry.
Since opening of the Queensferry Crossing in August 2017, the 1964 road bridge has taken on a new lease of life as a designated public transport corridor, whose only vehicular transport seems to be buses, but which has pavements and cycle paths offering wonderful views of the rail and M90 bridges that flank it.
Major engineering work is currently taking place on the old road bridge, reducing its limited bus traffic to a single lane in each direction and sadly meaning a temporary closure of the eastern walkway, which offers unbroken views of the parallel railway bridge.
From North Queensferry station your route means a turn left to follow the road downhill towards the shore, before turning right on a main road leading in the direction of the two road bridges. As it passes under the old road bridge there are steps up onto the walkways on each side.
Once in charming South Queensferry, with its shore-line views of the rail and 1964 road bridges, there seems no better stopping-off point than the Ferry Tap pub, to sample one of its fine Cromarty Brewery ales, though having to sit through a festive medley featuring Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas” on 8 November seemed a bit over the top!
From the Ferry Tap it is a 20-minute (uphill) walk to Dalmeny station on the southern approach to the Forth Bridge. Here there are regular trains back to Waverley, as well as great views from the northern end of the down platform of the railway leading onto the bridge and a regular procession of passing trains.
Given its iconic status, the Forth Bridge has not surprisingly featured on banknotes produced by all three Scottish issuers, as seen above with the 1969 £1 note from Royal Bank of Scotland and the reverse sides of the more recent Clydesdale Bank £5 note and Bank of Scotland £20 note. The Forth Bridge was designed by English engineers Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, with construction starting in 1882 and its opening on 4 March 1890. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the world’s second longest single cantilever span (1,709 ft.). Baker was educated at the former Cheltenham Grammar School and during my time there a house was named after him.
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