Increase in other vessels as we entered the Forth River, mainly large commercial vessels, one of them even noticed our small Aussie flag flying and commented to us over the radio that we were a long way from Sydney Harbour! There are not a lot of options for yachts to stay near Edinburgh city centre so had to travel further up the river to around the impressive Forth Bridge railway before the marina’s start. After ringing around them all we found most were busy with lifting boats out for winter and didn’t have room. The last one we tried at Port Edgar had space and allocated us a berth, to which we entered on dusk yelling and cursing each other as even tho we were given a allocated spot we couldn’t read the numbers on the pontoons to figure out which one was ours, the numbers were visible from shore not the boat – very strange? Lucky our yelling and cursing roused a fellow from a boat who was able to tell us from shore which one was ours, thanks Mate.
We spent a week here with a list of various things we wanted to see and happy to say we got to them all. To start with once the boat duties were done (this is Maree washing the boat and doing the clothes washing while Phil had a sleep in) we caught a bus into the city and explored, we walked up to Calton Hill which has views of Arthurs Seat the hills overlooking Holyrood Park which adjoins the Palace of Holyroodhouse – which is of course the Queens Scottish Residence.
We were surprised to be able to enter the Palace of Holyroodhouse (of course paying a fee) do see the palace and tour the grounds. No pictures were allowed inside the palace, so you will have to use your imagination but trust me when I say it was very old, the colours faded from most carpets and paintings, richly historic, sparser than i was expecting but truely very, very beautiful. (I am sure the suites that are actually used by the royals when in residence are much newer and modern). Pictures below.
Keeping on the royal theme and more importantly the sailing theme we also visited the HMY Britannia, the royal yacht in service from 1954 until 1997. Talk about impressed, in more ways than one, it is of course as you would imagine HUGE (125 meters long x 17 meters wide), it is also very tasteful and not over the top at all. Even considering it’s age and that it has been preserved from when it was decommissioned 19 years ago, I was impressed with it’s fairly modest furnishings, and just loved the fact that the Queen used many of her wedding gifts to fit out the yacht such as the bed sheets, linen and crockery that hadn’t been used sine moving into Buckingham palace rather than commissioning new items. We were slightly appalled by the fact that the officers bar had Fosters on tap (us Australian’s don’t drink that rubbish!). We took a million picture and are pleased to show many of them here to bore you!
We also lashed out and hired a car for 48 hours to get a bit further afield and visit the Falkirk Wheel & the Kelpies Statues. When I say car I mean toy-car, it was a teeny weeny little hot red fiat – super cool and zipped us around easily to where we wanted to go. First stop the Falkirk wheel to see this engineering masterpiece, and boy is it impressive. For those of you who are not familiar with it the Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal (basically linking Edinburgh to Glasgow). These canals used to connect up until the 1930’s then with infrastructure falling into disrepair were no reconnected until the wheel opened in 2002.
The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), replacing the previous 11 locks required to do this which used to take the best part of a day to pass through and now takes 15 minutes via the wheel, then onwards via the impressive aqueduct before rejoining the canals. Obviously it’s not suitable for yachts with masts up, but used regally by river and canal boats (and yachts with their masts down). It can take vessels measuring 21 meters in length by 6 meters wide, with a height of 2.7 meters and draft of 1.3). The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world.
Next stop was the Kelpies built in 2013 and standing a massive 30 meters high weighing 300 tonnes each, these incredible sculptures each contain 1200 tonnes of steel-reinforced concrete foundation built to hold the 928 stainless steel skin plates. These plates and other components were sculpted off site over a number of years and was the final product was constructed on site in just 90 days.
The sculptures form a gateway at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal, and the new canal extension built as part of The Helix land transformation project, which leads to/from the Falkirk Wheel.
The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage across Scotland.
The Kelpies name reflects the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways. The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area.
The other highlight of our visit to Scotlands capital was the chance to catch up with George and Caroline who are Phil’s cousin. They drove down to meet us from St Andrews and we spent a wonderful evening with them, hopefully will get to see them again whilst in UK and Europe, and certainly got us excited about continuing south to Suffolk to see the remainder of the family.