Thursday, 7 July 2011

Edinburgh Forth Bridges Cruise.

This morning our Kiwi acquaintances came around for a chat and to check out our home on wheels before they headed off to travel towards Inverness. We parted with a commitment to meet up again in New Zealand.

Close up of the Firth of Forth railway bridge from a cruise boat.Close up of the Firth of Forth railway bridge from the cruise boat.

Scaffolding covers the Firth of Forth railway bridge during it's 20 year repaint.Scaffolding covers the Firth of Forth Railway Bridge during it's 20 year repaint.

The weather forecast for today was rain, heavy at times but around mid morning there  was an improvement in the weather so we caught the bus into town. We had researched the tour bus situation and found 4 different companies all with slightly different routes plus an included boat tour around the Firth of Forth. A two day ticket covered the whole lot so that’s what we bought. As the weather was holding out we caught the bus which included the boat trip. As we have visited Edinburgh before we had a bit of a head start with the bus tour but we did see and learn a few new things.

Looking like Corgi Toys vehicles crossing the Firth of Forth road bridge.Looking like Corgi Toys vehicles crossing the Firth of Forth Road Bridge.

Inch Garvie Island in the Firth of Forth has been an isolation hospital and a prisoner in the pastInch Garvie Island in the Firth of Forth has been an isolation hospital and a prison in the past

Out in the Firth we cruised around between the road and rail bridges to start off. The noise under the road bridge was horrendous especially as trucks went over the expansion joints which you could see daylight through.  The bridge now is carrying more traffic than it was designed for and plans are now underway to build a second road bridge. When the new bridge is completed the old bridge will be dedicated to public transport to alleviate traffic congestion. The rail bridge was completely different even with two trains crossing simultaneously there was only a low rumble. There is scaffolding over various parts of the bridge as the current 20 year repaint is underway. There used to be a story that when painters finished at one end of the bridge they had to go back to the other end and start again. With paint of yesteryear that was probably true but they have now developed a long lasting paint with the name of Bridge Red which is as close to the original colour as possible.

The underside of the Firth of Forth road bridge which is badly overloaded.The underside of the Firth of Forth Road Bridge which is badly overloaded.

North Sea Oil Terminal where oil is pumped into waiting tankers.North Sea Oil Terminal where oil is pumped into waiting tankers.

Heading away from the bridges we passed the Oil Terminal where tankers call in to collect oil being extracted from the North Sea. Three tugs sit awaiting the next arrival, one of which is the most powerful tug in existence with the equivalent horse power to 100 Land Rovers. Further out towards the open sea we passed channel marker buoys where several Grey Seals were basking in the meagre sunshine. All told we spotted a couple of dozen Seals.

Smile, your on candid camera.Smile, you're on Candid Camera.

Tugs await the next tanker at the North Sea Oil Terminal.Tugs await the next tanker at the North Sea Oil Terminal.

North Sea Oil Terminal in the Firth of Forth.North Sea Oil Terminal in the Firth of Forth.

As we approached Inchcolm Island with it’s 12th century Abbey we were lucky enough to spot 4 Puffins which unfortunately were not as photogenic as the Seals. We had the option of being landed on the island for a fee and be picked up one and a half hours later on the next trip. With the island being fairly exposed with little shelter,uncertain weather, and a shortage of time we decided not to take this option. We got talking to another passenger who turned out to be another Kiwi over here on holiday. Having never been further than Australia before he had taken 9 weeks off work and was doing a big round the world tour. He told us he works in the open cast coal mine near Karamea where he lives.

12th century Abbey on Inchcolm Island.12th century Abbey on Inchcolm Island.

Reputedly the most powerful tug built.Reputedly the most powerful tug built.

Back on dry land we caught the bus back into the city where we headed for the nearest eating establishment as we were both very hungry. After a bit of planning we headed back to Waverley Bridge where we caught the second tour bus which took a predominantly inner city route. While on this bus we experienced a torrential rain storm which only lasted for about 10 minutes but had the passengers on the top deck scrambling for cover on the lower deck and left a lot of surface flooding on low level streets. By the time we completed this tour the rain had cleared and we could locate the nearest bus stop for the bus back to camp.

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