Wednesday, 9 December 2015

FORTH - A grey day under the bridges

The forth rail bridge completed in 1890
For months I’d moved across the open waterlike a wheel under its skin, a frictionlessand by then almost wholly abstract matterwith nothing in my head beyond the blissof my own breaking
From the Wave by Don Paterson OBE.

The next journey was a long time coming, even though geographically it was one of the closest from my home on the West coast of Scotland it was by its very nature highly dependent on the weather.
As we head towards the end of the year time was running out to get to the water before the bad weather became the norm.
Due to the great generosity of Colin Henderson of Edinburgh Boat charters the plan was to head out on the Firth of Forth from South Queensferry at the foot of the iconic crossings joining Lothian to the Kingdom of Fife.
Week after week the weather continued to defeat us with a succession of Atlantic fronts heading in bringing with it high winds and days of rain and more rain. To add to the complication the plan was to match up the visit with an interview with the Glasgow Herald and photo-shoot so each weekend meant planing against the weekly weather forecast, emails exchanged. There are so just many balls to juggle in the air and it seemed that we would never match everything together and the Scottish weather would continue to beat us..

At last the weather gods were kind and we found a slot of a few hours that would be suitable to head out on the Forth without gale force winds and horizontal rain.
The Edgar Marina is nestled between the current Forth road bridge and the construction of the Queensferry Crossing which cannot come soon enough for the travelers and the local economy as days before the journey fractures were found in the road bridge closing the bridge until the end of year. The history of the site goes back to the eleventh century, but it was in the early Nineteenth Century that a pier was built and has continued to have naval connections until the site became a marina in the late 70s.

Edgar Marina in South Queensferry
Sitting close to the marina is the recently fated road bridge and beyond the road bridge is the engineering and architectural wonder of the Forth Rail bridge whose structural dominance has made it an iconic feature of Scotland known around the World.

Colin Henderson my skipper for the day welcomed me on one of their yachts ready for our trip onto the Forth. Colin strangely sharing a very similar career in IT networking, a World I left some years ago to pursue the rewarding, but uncertain career as a full time artist.

Heading out into the Firth of Forth.

It was time to cast off  and we slowly slipped from the moorings and headed out into fairly calm water. The Estuary and sky a uniform slate grey so typical of many November days.

The Queensferry crossing under construction

Its only when you get onto the water you see the scale of the bridges at this end of the Forth, the current towers of the new bridge construction jutting out into the sky. We slowly turned and we headed Eastward towards the road and rail bridges.
The road bridge was built in 1964 and an immense suspension bridge over over 2,500 m and has carried over 65,000 vehicles a day.

Looking out to the North shore in Fife
Colin handed over the control of the yacht to me, the yacht feeling quite responsive, a pleasant change to my journey out on the Thistle from Maldon in Essex when the size and age of the barge was more of a fight for my untutored and inexperienced hands. In the slightly more choppy waters of the Forth I slowly took us under the road bridge and headed towards the iconic rail bridge.

Skipper Colin Henderson of Edinburgh Boat Charters

The huge distinctive red brown structure grew closer, a bridge like no other crossing this the stretch of Scotland since its opening in 1890. 

Historic photograph showing how the cantilever bridge construction.
Looking under the existing road bridge to the iconic Rail bridge

Its quite an experience to see the bridge from the water, the immense construction an artwork of perfect proportion an awe inspiring achievement for British engineering. We continued to out Eastward under my novice steering until a suitable moment to turn and return towards the marina and back to dry land. Heading back under the rail and road bridges I handed the wheel back to Colin to bring her back to her mooring.
A short journey for the FORTH region, but an enjoyable and interesting one. To see the bridges from a new perspective will remain with me even though the grey dreich day tried to defeat the mood, but enjoyable company and a warming cup of coffee on our return made the days travels a great success.

The journey onto the Firth of Forth only making me look forward the next journey out into the wonders and delights of the areas of the SHIPPING FORECAST.

Scotland Dec 2015