Firth of Forth

Forth Bridge and the Firth of Forth
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Forth Bridge and the Firth of Forth

At some 55 miles (88 km) in length, with a maximum width of 19 miles (31 km) at its mouth, the Firth of Forth represents the most substantial estuary on the east coast of Scotland. The Firth can be said to begin at Stirling, its tidal limit but where it can be easily crossed, and then enters a series of meanders before beginning to broaden just to the south of Alloa. To the southeast is the Clackmannan Bridge (2008), the first of five which cross the Firth. Almost immediately thereafter comes the Kincardine Bridge (1936). The river then turns east, flowing between Grangemouth and Culross, and on through the Queensferry narrows, where it is spanned first by the Queensferry Crossing, the most recent bridge which opened 2017, then by the Forth Road Bridge, a sleek suspension bridge opened in 1964, and finally the world-renowned Victorian super-structure of the Forth Rail Bridge. Thereafter the Firth widens markedly as it passes Edinburgh, but narrows again between North Berwick and Elie Ness, before widening once again and flowing out into the North Sea between Dunbar and Fife Ness. The Firth contains several small islands, the more significant of which are the Bass Rock, Cramond, Craigleith, Eyebroughy, Fidra, Inchcolm, Inchgarvie, Inchkeith, Inchmickery, Lamb and, farthest out, the Isle of May.

Perhaps the most spectacular sight came in 1918, when the entire British Grand Fleet, together with representative ships from the other allied powers, some 201 warships in total, assembled at the mouth of the Firth to meet the Imperial German High Seas Fleet (a further 70 ships) en route to internment.

The Firth remains an important communication route, with shipping serving significant ports at Alloa, Bo'ness, Burntisland, Grangemouth, Granton, Leith and Methil, as well as the Royal Dockyard at Rosyth, an Oil Refinery at Grangemouth, an Oil Terminal at Hound Point and numerous small harbours with a few fishing boats, or a larger number of yachts berthed at one of several marinas.

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