Updated: Oct 21, 2018
My favourite kind of walk has to be one involving water - a riverside ramble, a stride along the seashore, looping around a loch...fresh air, great views while getting exercise.
A real favourite at any time of year is the shore walk that takes in the Dalmeny Estate near South Queensferry. This walk has been incorporated into the John Muir Way, a seven to ten day walk coast to coast across the best of central Scotland with many places of natural, historical and industrial heritage along the way. You can read more about the John Muir way at http://johnmuirway.org. You can take a little of the walk at a time and there are a few segments near to us. As John Muir put it, "It is a good thing, to make short excursions now and then", and to "saunter rather than hike". I so agree with him.
I began at the Hawes Pier opposite the Hawes Inn in South Queensferry - a place worth a visit as it dates back to at least the 17th century and is featured in Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped. It also features a roaring log fire - great for warming up cold feet and hands if the weather is inclement. Wait until you have finished your walk and you can feel your warming drink is well deserved.
If the Lifeboat Station shop is open you can pop in and do your bit, (see www.queensferrylifeboat.co.uk) then take the small lane down to the left just after the station which heads to the shoreline, taking you to Longcraig Pier, one of several which were used as ferry points to cross the Forth. You might spot a seal basking on the pier if you are lucky. Personally I haven't spotted one yet but I live in hope.
At the pier there is a white gate by a cottage leading into the Dalmeny Estate and the path through the woodland. Every now and then you can see the shore and the boats sitting out on the Firth. The path ultimately leads all the way to Cramond and depending on your time and your energy levels, you can walk the entire route, rest in Cramond and walk or take the bus back; or do what I usually do - head off the path half way along, go down to the shore and do a loop, returning to South Queensferry and the Hawes Inn.
There are several ways of doing the loop but my preference is to keep to the path until it emerges from the woodlands and Dalmeny House comes into view on the right. It is a well-maintained woodland path with a good surface, and at various points you can divert down onto the shore. It is approximately 4.25km from Hawes Inn to Dalmeny House. Dalmeny House was built in 1817 to a Tudor Gothic design by William Wilkins. A rare type of artificial stone called coadestone was used in the more decorative elements on the house. The house was used as an auxiliary hospital during WWI and during WWII the stables to the rear were used by the Army for a Barrage Balloon Unit.
As the golf course opens up on the left opposite Dalmeny House, the footpath turns left onto the golf course to skirt the edge of the woodland and go down to the shoreline, then follows the shoreline along the golf course. From here you can continue all the way to Cramond, passing Snab Point and Eagle Rock, or go down onto the beach and turn back towards South Queensferry. You will get views along the coast to Barnbougle Castle and across the Forth. Kids will love beachcombing amongst all the shells.
You will have spotted Barnbougle Castle, currently covered in scaffolding, as you approached Dalmeny House. It is on the site of a medieval tower house built by the Mowbray family which was destroyed and then rebuilt in the 19th century. At Barnbougle the Fifth Earl of Rosebery (Prime Minister 1895-1895) practised his speeches in a gallery hall built for the purpose. The castle is not open to the public.
Climb back up onto the golf course via some rocks at the end of the little stretch of beach here, and take the path back the way you came. On the way back pause at Hound Point, known for the BP tanker berth and which according to folklore is haunted by a dog owned by Sir Richard Mowbray who died on the Crusades. The views from Hound Point are magnificent with Inchcolm Island and its old abbey as well as the spectacular Forth Bridges, including the wide white spans of the new bridge.
Retrace your steps back to the Lifeboat station in South Queensferry and to that well deserved warming drink at the Hawes Inn.
First published in Konect April 2017
Author: Karen Murray