SEA FISHING GUIDE TO Cramond to Cockenzie

Yachts, beaches and fishing boats below Edinburgh’s castle crag

Since its back is turned so resolutely upon the sea, it is easy to forget that Edinburgh – now that Leith has been included in the city – is a major port with a long coastline. The best way to appreciate the variety of this coast is to climb to the high, windy battlements of Edinburgh Castle and see the whole panorama of the Firth of Forth’s southern shore, stretching from pretty Cramond to the witch-haunted hill of North Berwick Law. (T) CRAMOND

With its white cottages and unexpected stone steps and alleys leading down to a snug little yacht anchorage in the River Almond, Cramond seems to have much more in common with Devon and Cornwall than with the busy dockland that begins at the eastern end of its fine golf links. Most of the village belongs to the 17th century, but its origins are far older, since it is built across a harbour and principal supply depot for the Romans’ Antonine Wall.

In his campaigns against the North Britons at the beginning of the 3rd century AD, the Emperor Severus supplemented the defences with a powerful fort; much of its foundations, meticulously labelled, can be seen in a field behind the church. This is built mainly of stones quarried by the legions, and the site has been a place of Christian worship since the 6th century. A Roman bath-house was uncovered in 1975, and nine skeletons from medieval times were found crammed into the Roman drains.

From the shore a causeway, passable at low tide, runs out to the uninhabited Cramond Island, round which cormorants bob like black periscopes. Far beyond them is the island bird sanctuary of Inchmickery. The tides are dangerous at Cramond – and the mussels on the shore are not safe to eat.

A ferry runs across the River Almond to the start of a path that runs past Dalmeny House to Queensferry. At the eastern end of the path is Eagle Rock, so called because it bears a much-worn figure representing either an Imperial Eagle or Mercury, god of travellers, carved by some legionary to welcome the galleys ashore.

From the east side of Cramond harbour, the shore path continues for some 2 miles to Granton Point, running almost all the way between the fine, undulating golf links and the Drum Sands. About half a mile inland is Lauriston Castle, whose turreted tower house dates from 1590. The castle is open daily in summer, except Fridays, and on weekend afternoons in winter.


Harry Lauder, Scotland’s best-known music-hall entertainer, was born in Por-tobello in 1870, and from time to time the town presents a Sir Harry Lauder Festival which is attended by Scots from all over the world. Lauder, who was known in America as ‘The Kilted Laird of Vaudeville’, died in 1950 and is buried in Hamilton, near Glasgow.

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Scotland’s historic heart on the Forth’s northern shore

Inventors and saints, nuclear submarines and ancient kings, tycoons and hermits – all play a part in the country of contrasts that lies between the giant Forth Bridges and the more modest one at Kincardine. Dunfermline contains the grave of Robert Bruce and the glorious park donated by Andrew Carnegie; the coast is shared between the oil industry, the Royal Navy, and ancient burghs and harbours of great charm and character.

Kincardine to Inverkeithing

Scotland’s historic heart on the Forth’s northern shore

Inventors and saints, nuclear submarines and ancient kings, tycoons and hermits – all play a part in the country of contrasts that lies between the giant Forth Bridges and the more modest one at Kincardine. Dunfermline contains the grave of Robert Bruce and the glorious park donated by Andrew Carnegie; the coast is shared between the oil industry, the Royal Navy, and ancient burghs and harbours of great charm and character.


This is where the Forth industrial belt begins in earnest, its gateway marked by vast power stations and coal mines. It was the presence of coal, coupled with that of the tidal waters of the river, that determined that the power stations should be built there. The largest of them, Longannet, is built upon land gained from the Forth by pouring in cinders from the Kincardine station.

An older Kincardine is still evident in the 17th-century Mercat Cross and houses -though they are almost overwhelmed by high-rise flats. The Kincardine Bridge, opened in 1936, was until the completion of the Queensferry Bridge in 1964 the only road bridge across the Forth between Stirling and the sea. However, the new bridge does not seem to have stolen too much of the older one’s traffic; not the least of Kincardine’s attractions is that it is toll-free.

Though its outlook across oily mud-flats to a generating station is hardly prepossessing, the little Royal Burgh itself looks like a set for an historical film, and is often used as such. Many of the buildings, dating from the 17th century and earlier, have been restored by the National Trust for Scotland, and the Electricity Board has concealed its substation within an old town house. Once Cul-ross was a well-known port, trading with the Low Countries; its ships brought back the red pantiles that cover the town’s roofs, and some architectural ideas too, to judge from the Dutch flavour of many of the houses.

As early as 1575, Culross coal was being mined at 240 ft, thanks to the ingenious methods of ventilation and drainage devised by the laird, Sir George Bruce. He it was who built ‘The Palace’, actually a unique example of a Jacobean merchant’s house. It is open to the public all the year round, as is the 17th-century Town House, and The Study, so called from the small, quiet room at the top of its tower, with its fine painted ceiling. All through the burgh there are odd, unexpected delights, such as the House with the Evil Eye (so called because of its oddly positioned windows) and the old shops and cottages bearing the insignia and inscriptions of the trades that were once practised in them.

The Cistercians founded Culross Abbey in 1217, and became the first Scottish coalminers not long after. Part of the Abbey is now the parish church. Just outside the town there are the remains of a 16th-century chapel, traditionally built upon the site of the birthplace of St Kentigern who, better known by his nickname of Mungo (Latin-Welsh for ‘dear friend’), became the patron saint of Glasgow.

At the western end of Culross, Dunimarle Castle houses a collection of paintings, glass, books and Empire furniture, some of which belonged to Napoleon.


Behind its neat little harbour and its foreshore of stones and oily mud, Charlestown has an odd air of Englishness. It has a village green, rare in Scotland, and about it are ranged the neat, low, white houses, some slate-roofed, some pantiled and all with considerable charm. The name of the village reflects its origin, being largely the creation of Charles, 5th Earl of Elgin. Having limestone and coal on his estate and the salt Forth at his doorstep, the earl cannily exploited them in salt pans and lime-kilns. Then, between 1756 and 1758, he established this model village. Little sign remains of the industries, but the village still thrives, as an attractive dormitory for Rosyth and other nearby towns.


Though a modern, busy, commercial town, Dunfermline has a medieval appearance, an effect created by the steep jumble of roofs, rising above streets that are nearly as steep, all reaching up to the tower and spire of the abbey. This, and the ruins of the palace and monastery near by, is the heart of the town, and in a sense, the heart of Scotland. For 600 years, it was the country’s capital; seven kings – including Charles I of England -were born there, and the abbey is Scotland’s royal sepulchre.

The most famous of the kings buried in Dunfermline Abbey is Robert Bruce, whose name is written in letters of stone at the top of the tower. His burial place was forgotten for many years until his skeleton was discovered during rebuilding work in the early 19th century. It was identified by its cloth-of-gold shroud and by the fact that the breastbone had been severed. On his deathbed in 1329, Bruce willed that his heart should be removed and taken by his friend, Lord James Douglas, to the Holy Land. Douglas was killed fighting the Saracens in Spain, and Bruce’s heart was eventually returned to Scotland, where it was buried in Melrose Abbey; his grave in Dunfermline Abbey is marked by a plaque.

The abbey is a magnificent building – dark and quiet, its roof supported on massive Norman pillars. It was the inspiration of the English Princess Margaret who married the Scottish King Malcolm Canmore in 1070, and who was instrumental in ousting the old Celtic church from Scotland and replacing it with that of Rome.

Royalty apart, Dunfermline’s most famous son is Andrew Carnegie, who was born in a cottage- still preserved – in Moodie Street in 1835, and emigrated to the USA where he made a vast fortune in the steel industry. He established some 3,000 libraries around the world – the first of them in Dunfermline. As a boy, Carnegie had been forbidden to enter Pittencrieff Park, the laird’s estate, so as a millionaire he bought the 17th-century house and its grounds and presented them to the people of the town. The park encompasses the remains of Malcolm Canmore’s Tower, and contains fine gardens and conservatories, a costume gallery, a pets’ corner and aviaries, paddling pools and a children’s playground.


There is little sign now of the kilns that gave the place its name. The village consists mainly of a single row of stone houses -many built by retired mariners – situated between a steep, hanging wood and a rocky shore from which two drystone piers reach out to form a snug yacht harbour.

The oldest building is the 14th-century King’s Cellar in which monks and then kings kept their wines. Since then it has been school, library, chapel, ballroom and an airraid shelter; now it houses a Masonic Lodge. Breck House in Red Row is thought to be the place that Robert Louis Stevenson had in mind when, in Kidnapped, he described how David Balfour and Alan Breck waited at an inn in Limekilns for a boat to take them across the Forth.


Correctly, this is HMS Cochrane, one of the greatest of British naval bases, Though it provides a great deal of employment locally, there is not much to see: neat squares of married quarters on the landward side and miles of wire fencing on the other. Occasionally a submarine or a ship of the Fisheries Protection Squadron may be glimpsed slipping out to sea, and now and again the Royal Navy unlocks its gates to the public at an Open Day.

Rosyth churchyard actually lies within the neighbouring- parish of Limekilns. The church ceased to be used for worship about 1630, but burials continued for many years after. Stones in the Strangers’ Ground record the names of foreign seamen who died of accident or disease and were buried there, and there is an early 19th-century vault in which corpses were kept for three months to prevent them from being stolen for dissection in the medical schools of Edinburgh.


This is the place where the Forth bridges -part of the scene all along the shores of the Firth – assume their true size, shape and colour. Each bridge complements the other, the Rail Bridge an intricate criss-crossing of girders, and the Road Bridge a soaring span of 8,244 ft supported by two slim towers that reach 512 ft above the water. The Rail Bridge, looking remarkably young for its 90-odd years of service, consists of two main spans each 1,710 ft long and resting on an island, Inch Garvie, while the overall length of the bridge is nearly WA miles; the topmost girders stand 361 ft high.

North Queensferry stands in the shadow of the Rail Bridge, overhung by the girders whose red-oxide coating is being constantly renewed; it takes three years to paint the bridge, and when the job is completed, the painters go back to the beginning and start again. Trains booming overhead do not seem to disturb the always-busy Forth Yacht Marina by the Road Bridge.

The queen referred to in the town’s name is Margaret who, in the 11th century, used to cross the Forth at this point when journeying betweeen Edinburgh and Dunfermline, and granted perpetual ferrying rights to the local people in consequence.



Castle Campbell, Dollar, 9 miles N of Kincardine, off A91, via B913. 15th-century ruins. Most days.

Doune, 21 miles NW of Kincardine, on A84. via A907. Medieval castle ruins, most days in summer; Motor Museum, daily in summer.

Menstrie Castle, 9 miles NW of Kincardine, on A91, via A907. Nova Scotia exhibition (NTS). Some afternoons in summer.

Scotland’s Safari Park, Blair Drummond, 19 miles NW of Kincardine, on A84. via A907. Daily in summer.

The nucleus of Inverkeithing – its old, grey Royal Burgh – is ringed at a distance by housing estates, and the two are divided by steep, mown hillsides. The town’s chief activity is shopbreaking, as is evident from the bright, rust-coloured water in the harbour. But much still remains of the days when Inverkeithing was an important market: the painted Mercat Cross, for example, that was set up in 1393, the Toll Booth, and some 17th-century town houses.

The tower of St Peter’s Church dates from the 13th century and is said to be built on the spot where St Erat began converting the local pagans in 744. The font, which is carved with the arms of Robert Ill’s Queen Annabella and dates from the late 14th century, was discovered beneath the tower in 1806. Apparently it had been buried there for safety at the Reformation, and when unearthed was found to contain human bones. These are assumed to be those of St Erat, relics that had also to be concealed from the reformers.