Iconic bridges – across the Forth with Stagecoach

There’s a certain allure about bridges if you are an intrepid explorer. Travelling over a bridge, particularly with a wide expanse of water below, can feel like a tranquil, becalming retreat from the rigours of life either side of the shores. Sometimes, the bridge is so long, that, with wind or rain beating either side of the bus or train and with night falling, there’s a certain unnerving mystique. The ambiance is always enticing and gripping too, particularly if, when, reaching the other side, there’s a sense of promise of an adventure to come.

The unsung hero

In the first of a mini-series featuring iconic bridges in the Great Scenic Journeys collection, we’re going to shine the light on an unsung hero. This wonderful structure, the Forth Road Bridge, has been usurped by some following the opening of the Queensferry Crossing in 2017, but it deserves kudos for its trusty service to buses and coaches since 4 September 1964. It’s also a lot less busy than the Queensferry Crossing and fun to glide across it serenely on a Stagecoach bus!

Perfect views towards the promised land of Perth beyond on the X56

Stagecoach’s X56 service from the heart of Edinburgh to Dunfermilne and Perth is a fun-filled journey, but the pinnacle is the simply jaw-dropping view as the coach makes its way across the Forth to a setting resplendent in unforgettable lush farmland, coastal walks, charming Scottish villages, rich in culture, fantastic culinary delights and incredible heritage. It’s a promised land beyond that never disappoints, with the view of the simply incredible bronze Forth Rail Bridge either at the corner or centre of the eye, depending on which way you’re trying to look to take in the view on this incredible passage on the X56. To plan your adventure on the X56, check out X56 Edinburgh – Perth – Great Scenic Journeys

Stunning service since the Sixties

With a main span of 1,006 metres between the two towers, the Forth Road Bridge was the fourth longest in the world and the longest outside the United States when it opened. In total, the structure is over 2.5 km long. A staggering 39,000 tonnes of steel and 125,000 cubic metres of concrete was used in its construction. “Guid Passage” was the fitting motto given to the bridge when it opened.

Ghosts, falcons and bats

The bridge was constructed to replace the ferry service that operated between South Queensferry and North Queensferry, providing a more efficient and reliable crossing over the Firth of Forth. Legend has it that the ferryman who operated between North and South Queensferry was known as “Tam the Ferryman“. It is said that his ghost still haunts the area around the Forth Road Bridge. The Forth Road Bridge is home to various bird species, including peregrine falcons and cormorants. Additionally, efforts have been made to accommodate bats, with bat boxes installed on the bridge.

Well worthy, high maintenance

The Forth Road Bridge requires constant maintenance, including painting. The original colour was green, but in the 2011-2012 repainting project, a specialised paint containing glass spheres was used to make the bridge more visible to passing ships. Over the years, the Forth Road Bridge faced challenges related to corrosion, leading to the need for extensive maintenance. In the winter, the bridge is equipped with sensors that can detect ice forming on the cables. This advanced technology helps authorities manage and mitigate potential hazards caused by icy conditions.

The maintenance challenges eventually prompted the construction of the adjacent Queensferry Crossing to accommodate the growing demands of modern transportation. Talking of modern, the Queensway Crossing was the home to Stagecoach’s successful trial of a driverless bus service in 2023 – another reason why in this modern age, it’s become, perhaps, more fashionable and hit the headlines more than our old friend the Forth Road bridge.

Still reigning supreme

Initially, the Forth Road Bridge included a pedestrian walkway, allowing people to walk across the bridge. However, due to safety concerns and maintenance issues, the walkway was closed for a period in 2011.

While the Queensferry Crossing has assumed the primary role in vehicular traffic, the Forth Road Bridge remains a historic and iconic structure, symbolising Scotland’s engineering prowess and the evolution of its transportation infrastructure.

Sumptuous views everywhere you look!

Traversing the road bridge provides a breathtaking panoramic view that captures the city’s historic charm and natural beauty. To the south, the iconic Edinburgh Castle perches atop Castle Rock, a symbol of the city’s rich history. The historic architecture of the Royal Mile unfolds, lined with centuries-old buildings, leading the eye toward the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the distant end. Edinburgh, of course, is one of the most renowned destinations within the Great Scenic Journeys collection and a trip that combines a few days in this incredible city and a venture of the Forth to a feast of delights beyond is not to be missed. If you fancy a fab tour of Edinburgh that crams in the history and best of contemporary life in this energetic City, then be sure to check out Bright Bus which runs an awesome Edinburgh City Tour and Britannia Tour…Bright Bus Edinburgh City Tour – Great Scenic Journeys & Bright Bus Edinburgh Britannia Tour – Great Scenic Journeys

Back and Forth, the Forth provides views like no other

Looking north, the Firth of Forth stretches majestically, with its tranquil waters reflecting the changing hues of the Scottish sky. The Forth Rail Bridge, an engineering marvel, dominates the horizon to the west, while the more contemporary Queensferry Crossing stands proudly alongside it. The surrounding hills, including Arthur’s Seat, create a picturesque backdrop, adding a touch of nature to the urban landscape.  Meanwhile, there’s wonderful views of the bridges from the shores of South Queensway.

Dynamism and dreams aplenty

As you gaze from the bridge, the rhythmic flow of traffic symbolises Edinburgh’s modern pulse, seamlessly blending with the timeless beauty of the surroundings. The view from the road bridge across the River Forth encapsulates Edinburgh’s unique synthesis of history, culture, and nature, making it a memorable vantage point for locals and visitors alike. The other side represents serenity and an almost simpler and bygone life. This is no better illustrated than the idyllic seascape of Dalgety Bay (pictured below), a small village, typical of the paradisical setting on the shores and beyond, this side of the Forth. The landscape beyond stretches towards Perth, Aberdeen and as far as the Highlands.

This is an adventure made initially possible by Stagecoach’s X56 and the Forth Road Bridge which, linking Edinburgh with the north of Scotland is the gateway that makes wistful travel dreams come true.