North of the Forth

Forth Bridges, Culross, Inchcolm Abbey, Crail, Falkland Palace, St Andrews,

Take your time on your way to St Andrews and it can provide a fascinating insight into Scotland’s past

The Forth Bridges link Edinburgh with Fife and the north. The Victorian Rail Bridge was opened in 1890

Until 1964 a ferry plied to and fro across the Forth to transport cars and pedestrians. Now the elegant Road Bridge spans the estuary.

Culross

A slight detour is needed to reach Culross, but well worth it. While perhaps not possessing the prettiest outward looking views in Scotland, looking as it does across the largely industrial Firth of Forth. Look inward though and the town comes as something of a shock.

Culross dates largely from the 16th century; preserved almost intact, it is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Walk along its many cobbled wynds and you get a real sense of what a 16th Century town would have looked and felt like. 

The Mercat Cross stands in the centre of Culross, dedicated to the 10th Earl of Dundonald, Thomas Cochrane, the naval hero.

The Study is a 16th century building; its nickname comes from the little room at the top of the tower.

The term ‘Palace’ seems somewhat grand when you think of the epic palaces of Europe. However, no less stunning to me is Culross Palace, dating from 1597. Restored by the National Trust to its original render, it is now a visitor attraction.

Because it is still used as a Parish Church, you can step inside Culross Abbey Church and appreciate it in a much more intimate way. A former Cistercian Abbey, it was founded in 1217 by the Earl of Fife, Malcom I

Somewhat difficult to get to; Inchcolm Abbey lies on an island in the Firth. If you have the time, it’s well worth a visit by ferry. The Abbey and grounds are fully accessible to the public. Daily spring and summer sailings are made by the ferry ‘Maid of the Forth’.

Round the coast of Fife lie many picturesque fishing villages. Crail is perhaps the prettiest of them all, with crow-stepped gables and pantiled roofs in a pleasing jumble.

Falkland Palace dates back to the 15th century, and was much favoured by Scottish kings as a place of retreat and relaxation.

St Andrews

St Andrews was the first of Scotland’s University towns. The University was founded in 1412, and still students may be seen around the town in their colourful red gowns. The town was given royal burgh status in 1140, and the cathedral was founded twenty years later.

Perhaps it is as the ‘home of golf’ that St Andrews is best known today. Here is the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, one of the oldest in the world. The Clubhouse has seen the start, and the finish, of some of the world’s greatest tournaments.

St Andrews Harbour and castle views