The South Queensferry to Cramond shore walk, open all year round, takes in stunning views over the Forth and some of the islands that are dotted around the coastline. Idyllic in the sunshine and dramatic in the rain, the landscape is ever-changing.
Highlights along the walk include:
- Hawes Inn – famous as the place where the kidnap of David Balfour was arranged in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped.
- Hound Point Headland – a short detour will take you onto the headland. Legend has it that on dark and stormy nights, you can hear the howls of the hound of Sir Roger Mowbray who was killed in the Crusades. From the headland, you can see Inchcolm Island and the old abbey (you can take boat trips there from Hawes Pier). You’ll also get great views of the Forth Bridge and probably be able to spot nesting seabirds.
- Barnbougle Castle – a historic tower house built by the Mowbray family and rebuilt in the 18th century. The castle is not open to visitors (other than as an event or wedding venue), but you’ll get a good glimpse through the trees at the place where the Prime Minister (fifth Earl of Rosebery) rehearsed his speeches in the purpose-built gallery hall.
- Dalmeny House - built in 1817, the charming Dalmeny House with its octagonal towers was used as an auxiliary hospital during WWI. The house was damaged by fire during WWII and the roof of the southern building was replaced with copper. Please follow the John Muir Way as the designated route through the estate. It is a busy working farm with free-roaming cattle and sheep so all dogs must be kept on leads. The house is not currently open to the public due to major works.
- Eagle Rock – near to Drum Sands, look out for this Historic Scotland plaque indicating the eagle carved into the rock. Thought to date back to the Roman occupation, some believe that the carving is actually of Mercury (the Roman God of commerce) or a Celtic horned god. The modern-day plaque reads “whether it is an eagle or whether it is Roman is uncertain”.
The walk continues up the Almond to Cramond Brig on the main road to the motorway and back down the other side. It is roughly 4.5 miles, finishing in the picturesque hamlet of Cramond with its small sandy beach. You’ll find pretty, whitewashed houses, plenty of places for a stroll and a nice coffee shop in which to refuel.
Now a sleepy suburb, Cramond was once the largest Roman military settlement in Scotland. By Cramond Kirk Church, you can see the foundations of a large complex of buildings and hidden under shrubbery, lie the remains of a Roman bathhouse. In 1997, Cramond was the site of the most important Roman finds in decades. The Cramond Lioness, an imposing stone monument which would have marked and protected an ancient grave, was recovered from the mud.
At low tide, you can wander across the causeway to visit Cramond Island. In the First and Second World Wars, the island formed part of the defence of the Firth of Forth and many remnants of wartime remain including gun emplacements, the terminus for the anti-submarine net, and the submerged concrete teeth designed to stop vessels from passing. If you are visiting the island, do keep an eye on the tides or you risk getting stranded.