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Edinburgh’s Coastline

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EDINBURGH. Coastline

Visitors to the city are sometimes unaware of the delightful coastline of Edinburgh; the city's shore stretches 15 km (9 miles) along the Firth of Forth and includes quaint old villages, long wide promenades and a busy seaport. All parts are easily reached by bus from the centre of the city.

Cramond Village

The most beautiful section of the coastline lies to the west, where the picturesque village of Cramond nestles by the shore at the estuary of the River Almond. It is some 7 km (4.5 miles) from Princes Street.

Cramond was originally a Roman fort, ''Caer Almond'' (Fort on the Almond), built about the year A.D. 142 by the Roman Emperor, Antoninus Pius. In recent years considerable excavation work resulted in discoveries of pottery, coins, rare painted glass and other objects which can be seen in Huntly House Museum

The layout of portions of the Roman fort itself can, however, be seen in an attractive garden at Cramond Village. This includes a stretch of wall which has been preserved. By the entrance to the garden is a plan which shows this corner of the fort in its relationship to the whole area.

A chance discovery in 1976, on the site of a proposed new municipal car park at Cramond, uncovered parts of an extensive and unusually well preserved Roman building. The walls at the west end of the building still stand to a height of 1.5 m (5 ft)-the highest surviving Roman walls discovered in Scotland. In addition, the walls have retained much of their original plaster covering.

Cramond village and its surroundings, in fact, comprise a remarkable blend of rural and coastal scenery within the confines of a city. The 18th century houses, where workers in the old iron mills lived, were recently restored by the City to serve effectively in the 20th century without destroying the old-world atmosphere of the village. There is also a medieval tower built in the 15th century and traditionally believed to have been the property of the Bishops of Dunkeld.

The village is now a highly popular centre for small craft sailing, and there is a pleasant path along the wooded banks of the river past the small boats. Old Cramond Bridge has an interesting link with James V. When the King was set upon by gypsies there he was rescued by a local miller, Jock Howieson, who brought water to bathe his wounds. The King afterwards bestowed the land of Braehead upon the miller, the only condition being that Jock Howieson and his heirs must always have a ewer of water and a basin to present to their Sovereign, a picturesque ceremony continuing into the 20th century.

From the shore at Cramond stretches a spacious promenade leading to Silverknowes and Granton. This is another delightful walk affording beautiful views of the hills of Fife. The City's Muirhouse Caravan Site overlooks Silverknowes promenade.


Continuing eastward by the shores of the firth, one comes to Granton, which has a spacious harbour, mainly used by fishing and pleasure craft. It is the centre of the Royal Forth Yacht Club, who hold many regattas here.


Leith, the busy seaport of Edinburgh, has all the bustle and romance of a place where shipping and commerce are always on the move. The harbour and docks, administered by the Forth Ports Authority, though old in origin are modern in equipment, serving ships from many countries and handling a variety of cargoes, while in recent years an increasing number of tourists have found the Port of Leith to be, indeed, the sea gateway to Edinburgh.

Following a major development scheme in the 1960s, it is now possible to berth cruising Liners up to 35,000 tons gross in the docks, to the great advantage of visitors with only a short time to spend in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh's natural advantages-location, services, communications-have always been appreciated by industrialists, particularly so in and around the Port of Leith which is strategically placed for some of the oil and gas yields and also on the Firth of Forth which has water deep enough to take the world's largest tankers. Leith has a large pipe-coating plant and fleets of supply vessels running a round-the-clock service to the lay barges in the North Sea.

Leith itself began some 800 years ago as a small but thriving village on the banks of the Water of Leith, where the river entered the Firth of Forth. Some of the older buildings in Leith include St Mary's Church, Kirkgate, dating from the 15th century; Trinity House, nearby, originally founded in the 14th century, but in its present form dating from 1816. There are some old inns near the shore, and a stone in the quay wall commemorates King George IV's landing there in 1822. Four centuries ago, in 1561, Mary Queen of Scots landed in Leith and on arrival found hospitality with a Leith merchant, Andrew Lamb. Lamb's House is a typical merchant's house of the time, combining the function of residence and warehouse. Now restored and under the protection of the National Trust for Scotland, this lofty four-storey building with crow-stepped gables, half-shuttered windows and projecting staircase-tower is used as a welfare centre by the Edinburgh and Leith Old People's Welfare Council.


Newhaven, very close to Granton in an easterly direction, is Edinburgh's fishing port.

It was founded about 1500 by James IV. Today there is a busy fishing trade, and Newhaven Fish Market is a lively place in the early morning, when the fish is auctioned.

Starbank Park is a lovely place to sit or stroll on a summer afternoon or evening. The grassy slopes, bordered by beautiful flowers, overlook the Firth of Forth.


East of the centre of the city is the suburb of Portobello, some 4 km (2.5 miles) from Princes Street. Portobello has a 1.5 km (mile-long) sandy beach recently renewed with fresh sand dredged from the sea-bed and 3.2 km (two miles) of promenade. It was a notable watering-place centuries ago, famous for its pottery as long ago as 1786, and has some interesting associations. When Sir Walter Scott was a Quartermaster in the Edinburgh Volunteers, he completed the first canto of The Lay of the Last Minstrel while in lodgings in the area. The famous Scots comedian, Sir Harry Lauder, lived at 3 Bridge Street there in 1870. There is also an indoor swimming pool at Portobello with salt and fresh-water baths, and Turkish and other special baths. There is an amusement park on the sea-front, and the children's paddling pool on the Promenade is attractively laid out, so that parents can sit facing the sun while their children play.

Golf, tennis, bowls and putting are available in the Portobello parks and there is a nine-hole golf course. Other City courses and some private courses are within easy reach.

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