Firth of Forth
Looking across the Firth of Forth from South Queensferry
(See the galleries
for more photos of the
The Firth of Forth is the estuary of the River Forth; it
runs to the North Sea, between Fife, to the north, and Edinburgh and the Lothians, to the south. The Forth is tidal as far inland as Stirling and continues to
meander as it heads towards Alloa; the river then begins to widen and straighten
out as it heads southeast and passes beneath the Clackmannanshire Bridge. It is
at this point we are going to consider the River becomes the Firth.
The Clackmannanshire Bridge was opened in 2008, but from
this point on the Forth begins to pass some very familiar sights. The first of
these is the Kincardine Bridge, which predates its neighbour by over 70 years;
however, chances are neither of these bridges are the centre of attention. The
183m/600 ft chimney of Longannet Power Station on the north side of the Forth
and the oil refinery at Grangemouth on the south dominate the skyline here!
However, despite all the landmarks that have been mentioned
so far, for many there are only two things that are identifiable with the Firth
of Forth: the Forth Bridges! The first of these to be reached we head east is
the Forth Road Bridge; this opened in 1964 and replaced a ferry service across
the Forth. However, even this bridge is largely ignored due to its immediate
neighbour, the late 19th century Forth Rail Bridge, or, as it is usually
referred, the Forth Bridge.
These last two bridges (although another is being planned
to join them) cross the Forth between North and South Queensferry. These two
towns were the ports for the ferry service that was supposedly set up by Queen
Margaret in the 11th century to assist travellers from Edinburgh get across to
Fife and on to Dunfermline and St. Andrews; other ferry services were also set
up for this purpose, including one that carried railway carriages between
Granton and Burntisland. Today, the only ferry service that runs carries
passengers from Rosyth in Fife to Zeebrugge in Belgium.
From the Forth Bridge heading east, the Firth is dotted by
a number of islands. The first of these, Inchgarvie, sits practically beneath
one of the huge cantilevers of the rail bridge. Many of the islands are now bird
sanctuaries and as a result visitor access is restricted; however, each of the
islands also has signs of use by humans, from the remains of castles, churches
and, from more recent times, light houses and artillery fortifications to defend
the Firth of Forth from enemy invasion.
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