South Queensferry, Edinburgh

| January 28, 2018

Just eight miles northwest of Edinburgh city centre this historic burgh is most famous for the three epic bridges that span the Firth of Forth. We are talking – of course – about South Queensferry. Many visitors unfortunatley just hop off a tour bus to snap the obligatory postcard photo of ‘The Bridges’. Staying longer, however, revelas a cobbled High Street laden with pastel hued buildings and a camera pleasing split-level terrace of houses set above the main street.

Exploring South Queensferry High Street

The Town Hall is the most striking building, but the more austere Black House is the oldest dwelling and dates back to 1626. The Queensferry Museum tells the surprisingly rich story of a town that was also the scene of the first aerial dogfight of the Battle of Britain during World War Two. Until the second half of the 20th century it also served as a major naval base. The exhibits are charmingly old fashioned, but the views of the birdlife rich Forth from the telescope appeal to both kids and big kids alike. A few yards further west a pebbly beach tempts down a sweep of steps, where brave local revellers and bemused tourists descend on New Year’s Day for the chilliest dip of their lives as part of the legendary Loony Dook.

Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge (c) Robin McKelvie

Sweeping Forth Bridge Views from South Queensferry

Sweeping views of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Forth Bridge (the strikingly iron red Victorian rail bridge), the Forth Road Bridge (the grey hued Golden Gate lookalike) and the magnificent new Queensferry Crossing can be snatched all along a High Street. A thoroughfare that leads to South Queensferry’s oldest building, the squat Priory Church. The only medieval Carmelite church still in use in the British Isles dates to the 15th century. Directly in front of the church’s rose garden are the ‘Binks’, a natural harbour where a plaque indicates the spot where a ferry first ran to take pilgrims to Dunfermline Abbey across the Forth. The abbey was dedicated to Queen Margaret – by her son King David I – and she also lends South Queensferry its name.

Queensferry Crosssing

Queensferry Crosssing (c) Robin McKelvie

Great South Queensferry Attractions

Those who want to get closer to the trio of epic bridges can hop aboard a Maid of the Forth or Forth Belle river cruise. We’ve taken trips with the former numerous times and love spending time ashore onIncholm Island. Here the romantic ruins of Incholm Abbey, gentle walks, military defences and even a brace of sandy beaches await. Back in South Queensferry itself, visitors can enjoy a shoreline walk through Dalmeny Estate. A trip to the majestic Hopetoun House meanwhile is a must for Outlander fans. Those with children in tow might want to check out Honeypot Creative Cafe. Here kids and big kids alike can paint ceramics or try their hand at a range of crafts. For many adults the great Forth Bridge views and delicious home-baking more than suffice.

Inchcolm Island

Inchcolm Island (c) Robin McKelvie

Excellent Restaurants in South Queensferry

South Queensferry also has some great place to east. Seasfood stars in the swish Boat House, with chef and owner Paul Steward’s speciality king scallops with truffle oil. The signature dish at their less formal bistro is beer battered haddock and chips.

View from Antico

View from Antico (c) Robin McKelvie

A few doors west is Orocco Pier a brilliantly reinvented old coaching inn. Hardwoods and floor to ceiling windows  set the smooth tone in the Samphire Restaurant and Seafood Bar. Its Antico bistro, meanwhile, offers upmarket pub grub and superb breakfasts to go with the panoramic views. The best hotel bedrooms offer views of those hallowed bridges.

On the fringes of town the starkly modernist Dakota Hotel offers slick bedrooms and an equally stylish restaurant whose fresh seafood platters are the highlight. For a great self-catering option, meanwhile, check out Forth Reflections, with its stylish decor, friendly owners and great bridge views.

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