‘Bridge tourism’ boost for Scotland
The trio of bridges across the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, are predicted to put Scotland on the map as a leading destination for so-called “bridge tourism”.
VisitScotland reckon the new Queensferry Crossing, which stands alongside the Forth Road Bridge and iconic Forth Bridge, will rival San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Tower Bridge in London, all of which regularly attract millions of visitors every year.
This week, Scotland enters the history books as the only place in the world to boast three bridges spanning three centuries in one stunning location.
The Queensferry Crossing is also the world’s longest three-tower cable stayed bridge. It will make it easier for local, national and international visitors to travel across the east of the country, to discover attractions such as Dunfermline Abbey, Hopetoun House, Blackness Castle, Aberdour Castle, Deep Sea World and Inchcolm Abbey.
The crossing will open to traffic on August 30 and will be officially opened by The Queen on September 4.
Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Queensferry Crossing is about to join its two neighbours in the ranks as one of the world’s most iconic bridges, a national ‘must see’ for visitors to Scotland.”
Scotland’s fabulous bridges
As well as the Firth of Forth bridges, Scotland is home to many impressive crossings.
The bridge earned UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2015. It was designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Bakerand its distinctive cantilever style makes it one of the most recognisable structures in the world, inspiring artists, photographers and filmmakers. It was opened in 1890 and last year it was also chosen as Scotland’s greatest manmade wonder.
A favourite with Harry Potter fans having starred in two of the blockbuster movies, the impressive Glenfinnan Viaduct carries the railway 100ft above the River Finnan. When it was completed in 1901 it was the longest mass concrete viaduct in Britain and was built by rail and road engineer Sir Robert McAlpine.
The Jacobite Steam train, which doubled as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies, runs from Fort William to Mallaig.
The Brig o’Doon
This 15th century cobbled bridge in Alloway is famed for its appearance in poetry. The Brig o’Doon saved Tam o’Shanter in Robert Burns’ poem of the same name. The witches from Alloway Auld Kirk were pursuing Tam when he crossed the bridge on horseback but were unable to cross the water, and only managed to rip off the poor horse’s tail.
Originally, the old bridge was supposed to be demolished but this decision was overruled by Alloway’s increasing role as a gateway for literary tourists, attracted to the area by Rabbie’s work.
Best known as the Squinty Bridge because of its twisted arch, the Clyde Arc was designed by the Halcrow Group and built by Kilsyth-based civil engineering company, Edmund Nuttall. Its construction was part of a regeneration project on the Clyde Waterfront.
The Clyde Arc is just one of 21 bridges that span the River Clyde, with the earliest bridges dating from the 1850s. They are diverse in style and each plays a part in telling the history of Glasgow.
Built in 1792, Clachan Bridge crosses the Clachan Sound, but is known by the much grander title of The Bridge Over the Atlantic because the sound opens directly into the Atlantic Ocean. It was designed by John Stevenson, whose family founded Oban, and the plans were revised by Robert Mylne.
Carrbridge Packhorse Bridge
Celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, the Carrbridge Packhorse Bridge is one of the most iconic visitor attractions in the Cairngorms. Originally built to allow funeral processions to gain access to Duthil Church, the crossing is often nicknamed “coffin bridge”.
It was funded by the Brigadier-General Alexander Grant of Grant who paid mason John Niccelsone to create what is the oldest known stone bridge in the Highlands. All that remains of the bridge is a single span, arcing high into the air across the swiftly rushing river below.
The Kylesku Bridge
Replacing a long-running boat service, Kylesku Bridge was completed in 1984 and is one continuous concrete curve that crosses Loch a’Chairn Bhain. The previous ferry services had proved unpredictable, especially in bad weather, and the award-winning bridge helped travellers to avoid a 100 mile route on land. The bridge is located in the North West Highlands Geopark on the North Coast 500 driving route.
Tay Road Bridge
One of the longest road bridges in Europe, the Tay Road Bridge connects the city of Dundee with Fife and spans 1.4 miles. It was designed by Glasgow-based William A Fairhurst and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was in the first car to cross the bridge on the day it officially opened in August 1966. Unusually, the pedestrian pathway runs through the middle of the two lines of traffic and is raised above them.
This elegant red sandstone viaduct opened in 1865 and was created by Charles Jopp and Wylie & Peddie. Its 19 red sandstone arches carried the Berwickshire Railway over the River Tweed and although there was flooding damage to the line in 1948, the Leaderfoot Viaduct was in use until 1965. You can take an 8.5 mile circular walk, which includes the viaduct, as well as Melrose, Newstead, Gattonside, Earlston.
Also known as Golfer’s Bridge, this crossing might be small in size, but it’s an iconic part of golfing history and a mecca for golf fans. This stone footbridge crosses over Swilcan Burn, which meanders across the 1st and 18th fairways of the Old Course in St Andrews. It has witnessed 29 Open Championships in its time and been privy to some of the finest moments in golfing history.
Vote for your favourite Scottish bridge
- Pic credit: Visitscotland for all photos.