Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Bridges of the Forth and the ‘Kidnapped’ Inn

Recently I travelled to Queensferry with my friend and our kick-scooters. Since I bought my scooter it has cause much discussion and some laughter, I might add, but I have encouraged some friends to buy one as well.

We travelled on the CrossCountry train from Motherwell to Edinburgh Waverley and took a bus to Queensferry. Our journey on this day would take us over the Forth Road Bridge on our kick-scooters to North Queensferry to get some spectacular views of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Forth Road Bridge

The Forth Road Bridge was opened on 4 September 1964 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and was the largest suspension bridge in Europe at the time of opening. The total length is 2.5km including the approaches to the bridge. It joins South Queensferry with North Queensferry over the River Forth.

Forth Road Bridge

Forth Road Bridge

Side view of the Bridge

Forth Road Bridge

Forth Road Bridge

View of the Rail Bridge from The Forth Road Bridge.

Forth Rail Bridge

Forth Rail Bridge from the Road Bridge

The Road Bridge from North Queensferry

Forth Road Bridge from North Queensferry

Forth Road Bridge from North Queensferry

There are two lanes on the bridge which slopes upwards at the centre with cycle lanes and a footpath on both sides it. Most people will walk on the Rail
Bridge side rather than on the other side, which only gives views of the Royal Naval Dockyards at Rosyth.

As we ‘scootered’ over the Bridge we stopped to look over at the scenery. The cyclelane/footpath was fairly busy with both cyclists and walkers and the two of us on kick-scooters! Some trains could be seen travelling on the Rail Bridge either going to Edinburgh or Fife.

Kingdom of Fife and North Queensferry

At the other side of the Bridge we were in the Kingdom of Fife and decided to make the short trip down to North Queensferry to view the bridges from the other side of the River Forth. The sun was overhead and making photography difficult.

St Mary’s Episcopal Church

We then travelled back over the Bridge to South Queensferry to view some of the significant buildings in the town. The oldest building is St Mary’s Episcopal Church, also known as the Priory Church, which was built for the Carmelite Order of friars in the 1450s.

St Mary's Episcopal Church

St Mary’s Episcopal Church

It is the only medieval Carmelite church still in use in the British Isles, and is a category A listed building. After the Scottish Reformation of 1560 it was used as a parish church until 1635. It has been used as a place of worship since 1890 when it was reconsecrated for the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Town of South Queensferry

The town has an old-world feel to it as most of the buildings are very old and have not been modernised. The road is cobbled, which adds to the character of the town.

South Queensferry

South Queensferry

More views of the High Street

South Queensferry

South Queensferry

Jubilee Clock

The Jubilee Clock in the High Street was another feature which caught our eye. It is situated in the Tolbooth and dates from the 17th century. The clock commemorates Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee which was on the 20 and 21 June 1887.

Jubilee Clock

Jubilee Clock South Queensferry

High Street Houses

The houses in the High Street were mainly terraced and brightly painted and retained their original character.

Travelling along the footpath, we were able to get great views of both bridges and the towns on the other side of the Forth.

The Forth Bridges

The Forth Bridges

South Queensferry Harbour

The small harbour is used by two ferry companies who operate a service to Inchcolm Island. We took The Maid of the Forth to Inchcolm Island and this will be the subject of my next article

Hawes Inn

Hawes Inn

Hawes Inn where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote ‘Kidnapped’

This 16th century inn was made famous by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson who was inspired to write his classic novel ‘Kidnapped’ while staying in room 13 in 1886.

The inn is situated almost below the Forth Rail bridge and RLS’s affection for South Queensferry is reflected in his character’s words on his return from the Highlands: “It was a fairly built burgh, the houses of good stone, many slated…it put me to shame for foul tatters”.

Another Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott, mentioned the inn ‘The Antiquary’ who called it ‘a very decent sort of place’.

The inn retains its old -world appearance – the owners once tried to upgrade it in 2001 but it caused such a rumpus that they decided to leave it as it was!

Forth Rail Bridge

The 2.5 km Forth Railway Bridge was the world’s first major steel bridge. Construction began in 1883 by Tancred–Arrol and was formally completed on 4 March 1890 when HRH Edward Prince of Wales tapped into place a ‘golden’ rivet.

The main crossing comprises tubular struts and lattice-girder ties in three double-cantilevers each connected by 105m of ‘suspended’ girder spans resting on cantilever ends secured by man-sized pins. The outside double-cantilever shoreward ends carry weights of about 1000 tonnes to counter-balance half the weight of the suspended span and live load.

Forth Rail Bridge

Forth Rail Bridge

‘Bikers Cove’

Before leaving for home, we had a cup of tea at the ‘Bikers Cove’ cafe just next to the Hawes Inn. Our kick-scooters looked a bit out of place as the other ‘wheels’ were Harley Davidson’s, Honda Gold Wings and some BMW’s.

Bikers Cove

Bikers Cove

It had been a great day with a cloudless blue sky, bright sunshine and temperatures of 23c. What more could you ask for?

Further Information

South Queensferry is Eight miles northwest of Edinburgh city centre located at the southern end of the two mighty Forth Bridges.

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Inchcailloch – Loch Lomond

Went on a trip with the my friends from the Scottish Wildlife Trust today to Inchcailloch on Loch lomond.

The weather was lovely and quite warm and helped make it a day to remember. Thanks to Sheila and Robin who picked me up from Hyndland Station in Glasgow and drove me to Balmaha and saved me a trek there by public transport.

Balmaha

At Balmaha we met the other members of the group and took the ferry to the island. It was only a 6 minute journey and a nice and smooth one.

Inchcailloch Island from Balmaha

Inchcailloch Island from Balmaha

Inchcailloch

Inchcailloch is one of the larger islands on loch Lomond near Balmaha on the south of the Loch. The name  means “Isle of the old woman” or “Isle of the Coweled Woman” after Saint Kentigerna who came to Scotland from Ireland in 717AD to preach and spread Christianity.

The Pier is on the north of the island and we walked in an anti-clockwise direction round the island. The Bluebells were in bloom and covered large areas of the island.

‘Dung Beetles’

There were also large numbers of beetles on the footpath called ‘Dung Beetles’ which play an important role in agriculture. They bury and consuming dung, and as a result, they improve  soil structure. They also protect livestock by removing the dung which could provide a habitat for pests. On the island there are Fallow Deer and the Dung Beetles help protect them.

Dung Beetles

Dung Beetles

Inchcailloch Graveyard

There is a graveyard on the north of the Island and the remains of a church which was built in the 12th century and dedicated to St Kentigerna. Until the 18th Century, people from the mainland rowed across  for worship and to bury their dead.

‘Coffin Valley’

The church was abandoned in 1670 but the graveyard was used until 1947. The path leading to the graveyard was known as ‘Coffin Valley’ as the dead were carried here on their way to the graveyard.

Inchcailloch Graveyard

Inchcailloch Graveyard

The Graveyard was used by the Clan MacGregor and some of Rob Roy’s ancestors are buried there.

Old Farmhouse

To our left was Loch Lomond, but it were obscured by the trees. On the way to the beach at Port Bawn, on the south of the island, we passed the remains of an old farmhouse which was last inhabited in around 1770.

Remains of an Old Farmhouse

Remains of an Old Farmhouse

Industrial Revolution

In the late 18th Century the land was planted with oak trees for the production of Pyroligineous Acid which was used in industry to soften the leather belts used to drive machinery. Processing the oak bark was carried out at the Liquor Works, at Balmaha which is  now the Highland Way Inn.

Port Bawn

At Port Bawn we stopped on the beach for lunch. It was quite busy – the weather had got warmer and it was very pleasant. Walk leader, Ruth, brought some home made flapjacks, which were excellent. An Osprey was seen catching a fish in the Loch and taking it to feed its young.

Summit of Inchcailloch

We then proceeded to the highest point of the Island, at 85 meters, to get fabulous views of Ben Lomond, Bein Bhreac, BeinnDubh Conic Hill, Inchfad Island and Glen Luss. Some walkers could be seen on Conic Hill and there were many small sailing boats on the Loch.

View from Top of Inchcailloch

View from Top of Inchcailloch

Glen Luss can be seen to the left  in the photograph below.

Loch Lomond and Glen Luss

Loch Lomond and Glen Luss

The islands of Torrinch, Creinch and  Inchmurrin can be seen in the photograph below. Inchmurrin is the largest island on Loch lomond.

Islands of Torrinch, Creinch and  Inchmurrin

Islands of Torrinch, Creinch and Inchmurrin

Conic Hill

Conic Hill is a sharp little summit rising above Balmaha. Right on the Highland Boundary Fault, this short hillwalk offers truly fantastic views over Loch Lomond and its many islands.

Conic Hill

Conic Hill

Birds and Plants

On the walk we saw a Tawney Owl, a Woodpecker, male and female Crossbills, Wood Warblers, Wren, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Canada Geese and Tree Pippit.  There were also some interesting flowers such as the Yellow Pimpernel, Bitter Watercress, Wood Sorrell and Climbing Corydalis.

Highland Boundary Fault

The Highland Boundary Fault is a strike-slip fault that traverses Scotland from Arran and Helensburgh on the west coast to Stonehaven in the east. It separates two distinctly different physiographic and geological terranes – the Highlands from the Lowlands.

‘Pudding Stone’

The loch islands of Inchmurrin, Creinch, Torrinch, and Inchcailloch all form part of the Highland Boundary Fault. On Inchcailloch could be seen ‘pudding stone’ or conglomerate which was formed more than 400 million years ago when rivers flowed down from mountains and brought sand, silt and pebbles with it. These solidified to create ‘pudding stone’ or conglomerate.

Conglomerate or Pudding Stone

Conglomerate or Pudding Stone

A good example of conglomerate was seen on the path down towards the Pier at the end of our walk. The ferry came at 16.00 as agreed to take us back to Balmaha.

Ferry Home

Ferry to Balmaha

It had been a fabulous day out thanks to our leader Ruth and all the SWT members of the group who provided such interesting information about the island and its wildlife.

Further Information:
Scottish Wildlife Trust:
www.swt.org.uk

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
www.lochlomond-trossachs.org

Balmaha Boatyard (MacFarlane & Son)
http://www.balmahaboatyard.co.uk

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Greylag Geese and Chicks

Walking round Strathclyde Park in Motherwell I spotted these Greylag Geese and chicks.

Greylag Geese

‘Lets all go for a Swim’

Geese and chicks on grass beside the Loch

Greylag Geese

‘Follow me to the Loch’

Across the footpath

Greylag Geese

‘Across this busy footpath’

Into the water

Greylag Geese

‘Into the Loch for a Swim’

Swimming in the Loch

Greylag Geese

‘Swim nicely. There are people watching you’

It was lovely to watch.

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