A day out with a difference – Forth Bridge Walk and Deep Sea World
Do you fancy Forth Bridge Walk?
A long walk beside a dual-carriageway might not top most people’s lists for a Great Family Day Out but this walk, along the Forth Road Bridge, is pretty special. Both our children, including our 7 year old daughter, a very ‘Whingey Walker’ on the best of days, absolutely loved it. (The lure of an ice cream on the other side helped though…) The 1.5 mile bridge paths are completely separated from vehicles and there are tunnels and walkways to link to the villages on both sides, North Queensferry and South Queensferry so you are separated from vehicles at all times.
We parked at the visitor centre on the southern end of the bridge where there is ample parking (but the visitor centre itself is only open to group bookings). You can also park down in South Queensferry where there are pubs and cafes. Check the bridge website before departure because high winds can sometimes cause closure of the bridge paths.
The views of the Forth estuary and the other two spectacular bridges across the Forth are just amazing. The brand new £1billion+ Queensferry Crossing is a modern engineering marvel as too are the famous spans and arches of the rail bridge opposite. (You can’t walk across the new bridge though, the people who have walked across were the lucky few who won one in a lifetime lottery tickets to do so!) The stomach-turning view straight down to the river can make this walk quite exhilarating. You can even feel the trucks and busses vibrating the bridge as they cross which adds to the thrill. Tbh, if you don’t like heights, this walk really might not be for you…
As we reached the highest point of the bridge, an oil tanker began to pass beneath us. We were close enough to make eye contact with the ship’s captain and my son, aged 12, gestured for him to toot his horn by ‘yanking the chain’ as he does with truck drivers. The oil tanker obliged with a huge foghorn like blast, much to the children’s delight.
Although the bridge path is only 1.5 mile long walk it takes about 45 minutes to cross as everyone is walking slowly and posing for photos. When you reach the north side of the bridge, you can walk west to the Queensferry Hotel for a well-deserved coffee or an ice cream. Then head back across the bridge. Hopefully the opposite path to the one you arrived on will be open so for the return leg you can enjoy an unimpeded view of the other bridge.
Or, before you cross back, you could take the eastern coastal path and walk another 15 minutes down into North Queensferry village. Here, there are several cafes and restaurants to be found and boat rides (you must book ahead from Forth Road Bridge). I haven’t done this for many years as the children have already been with their school, which they loved.
As well as a tour beneath and around, the three dramatic Forth Bridges you can also visit the islands and see Blackness Castle, Inchcolm Island (with its twelfth century Abbey), The Isle of May, (famous for its Puffins and other seabirds) plus the ruined war-time fortifications of Inchmickery and Crammond Islands. Not cheap, and weather-dependent, but a memorable day out is guaranteed.
Forth Road Bridge, Scotland’s National Aquarium, nestles under one of the great pillars of the railway bridge, the Forth Bridge, in North Queensferry. They have the largest underwater viewing tunnel in the UK where you can see sharks, rays, eels and numerous fish found in UK waters. There are numerous tanks with ecosystems from around the world such as Lake Malawi and close encounters where the children can touch certain animals such as sea cucumbers, creepycrawlies and snakes – if they dare!
Standard Adult tickets are £15 and children are £11 but advance etickets can reduce this by 25%. Sometimes they have special family tickets on sale for just £30. Deep Sea World always feels a little expensive to us (we have been many times over the years) but the kids do love it here, especially seeing the sharks and ‘smiling’ rays so close up. We were once lucky enough to enjoy a behind the scenes tour which gave us the opportunity to see the tunnel from above and view the breeding tanks up close. Keep an eye on the timetable for feeding times, especially the noisy sea lions. Avoid eating here though, as the food is way too expensive and not all that great. Much better Fish and Chips can be found in both North and South Queensferry.
All in all, there is absolutely loads for the family to do on a day out, on and around the Forth Bridges. Obviously this day out does depend on the weather so keep an eye on the websites and pre-book a boat ride and Deep Sea World ahead of your visit. Deep Sea World, however, is always a good rainy day outing.