Firth of Forth

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The Forth Bridges
The Firth of Forth from Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Map of the Firth
The Fife-Edinburgh hovercraft service

The Firth of Forth is the estuary or firth of the River Forth, where it opens into an arm of the North Sea, stretching between Fife to the north and the Lothians - West Lothian, Midlothian and East Lothian - to the south.

The firth was known to the Romans as Bodotria.

Geography and economy

Geologically, the Firth of Forth is a fjord, formed by the Forth Glacier in the last glacial period.

The River Forth is tidal as far inland as Stirling, which until the nineteenth century was also the lowest bridged point and therefore a vital strategic point in troubled times. The Forth is though a flowing river for some miles below Stirling; where the Firth begins is open to interpretation.

A number of important towns stand on the shores of the Firth of Forth, and many dockyards, harbours, factories and other industrial works. The petrochemical complexes at Grangemouth, the commercial docks at Leith, oilrig former construction yards at Methil, the ship-breaking facility at Inverkeithing and the naval dockyard at Rosyth, with numerous other industrial areas including the Forth Bridgehead area, Burntisland, Kirkcaldy, Bo'ness and Leven.

The Kincardine Bridge and the famous Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge carry traffic across the Firth. A third crossing, located next to the Kincardine Bridge, opened in 2008. On 1 October 2008 it was announced that the new bridge would be called the "Clackmannanshire Bridge".[1]

In July 2007, a hovercraft passenger service completed a two week trial between Portobello, Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy, Fife. The trial of the service (marketed as "Forthfast") was hailed as a major operational success, with an average passenger load of 85%.[2] If a permanent service comes into operation, it could cut congestion for commuters on the Forth road and rail bridges by carrying about 870,000 passengers a year.[3]

The inner Firth, between the Kincardine and Forth bridges, has lost about half of its former intertidal area as a result of land being reclaimed, partly for agriculture, but mainly for industry and the large ash lagoons built to deposit the spoil from the coal fired Longannet Power Station near Kincardine.

The Firth is important for nature conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Firth of Forth Islands SPA (Special Protection Area) is host to over 90,000 breeding seabirds every year. There is a bird observatory on the Isle of May.

In 2008, a controversial bid to allow oil transfer between ships in the firth was refused by Forth Ports. A company named SPT Marine Services had asked permission to transfer 7.8 million tonnes of crude oil per year between tankers. The proposals had met with determined opposition from conservation groups.[4]

Firth of Forth islands

Islands in the Firth of Forth include:

Towns and villages on the shoreline

North Shore (Fife)

South Shore

Places of interest

  • Aberlady Bay, Archerfield Links
  • Barns Ness Lighthouse, Belhaven, Berwick Law, Blackness Castle
  • Cockenzie Power Station, Culross
  • Dalmeny House, Dirleton Castle
  • Fa'side Castle
  • Gullane Bents
  • Hopetoun House, Hopetoun Monument
  • John Muir Country Park, John Muir Way
  • Longniddry Bents
  • Musselburgh Racecourse
  • North Berwick Golf Club
  • Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum, Preston Tower
  • Ravenscraig Castle
  • Scottish Fisheries Museum, Scottish Seabird Centre
  • Seton Sands
  • St Filan's Cave
  • St Monans Windmill
  • Tantallon Castle, Torness Nuclear Power Station
  • Waterston House
  • Yellowcraigs

Outside links