Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Forth Coast - Hopetoun to Cramond

In the last post, we walked to Forth Coast from Bo'ness to Abercorn. This post continues the route to Cramond. Immediately after Hopetoun, the Forth Bridges draw near at Queensferry. South Queensferry is a historic burgh, its narrow, cobbled main street today choked with cars, the ancient Hawes Inn sitting directly beneath the rail bridge. This is the starting point for an interesting boat trip to Inchcolm.

Forth Bridge:


We carried on under the Forth Bridges, to a pleasant beach at Hound Point. On this particular day, crowds of strollers were taking to the track through Dalmeny estate, yet the more beautiful beach was deserted. Perhaps the facility for tankers to unload oil just offshore puts people off exploring the beach. It was still far more interesting than the track.

Bridges from Hound Point:


Around the next corner, the rugged islands of the Forth came into view, as did Edinburgh and Leith, plus some strange wooden stumps at the edge of low tide. What were they? There are similar stumps off Port Glasgow, the only remains of 18th century shipbuilding industry.

Stumps:


Investigating these stumps took us to the waters edge, and the way back was muddy and squelchy, the saturated tidal mud full of gaping ragworm holes, Barnbogle Castle on the shore above.

Barnbogle:


Barnbogle dates from the 13th century, but was rebuilt as a Victorian fancy by the local laird, the 5th Earl of Rosebery - who went on to become the Prime Minister of Britain and Ireland. Barnbogle is just a folderol, compared to Rosebery's massive main residence, Dalmeny House. This remains the home of the Earls of Rosebery to this day.

Cramond Island and distant Edinburgh:


Finally, our walk came to the River Almond and on the opposite shore, Cramond. Cramond is the site of a long-gone Roman fort and is terminus of Dere Street, the Roman road from York. A few years ago, an impressive Roman sculpture was found in the mudflats here. For a long time I have wondered if it was possible to take to these mudflats and ford the Almond at low tide, but there was far too much water here, even at what looked like stepping stones. It would be possible to wade across, but wet legs would be guaranteed. If I were walking the coast and the tide was out, I still think I would prefer this wade to walking a couple of miles inland to the footbridge.

Inaccessible Cramond:


Perhaps it would be possible to follow the tidal edge and cross the Almond at Cramond Island? Unfortunately we had run out of time, and I was unable to confirm. The tearoom in Cramond, crowded and bustling with weekenders, remained unreachable from our deserted, wildlife-abundant western bank. We turned around, and headed back to South Queensferry and transport home.

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