So, in part 1 of this blog post we dealt with the major city centre locations you don’t want to miss so let’s venture a little further out to some more must see locations, all within easy reach of the city centre.
Site of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh and the place where you always hear about high winds being recorded in Edinburgh, the anemometer that records Edinburgh’s peak wind speeds is about half way up the hillside.
Blackford is a large sprawling area with loads to explore but for our purposes it’s the hillside we’re interested in. Assuming you are coming from the car park area next to the Observatory there’s a small paved path that leads up the hill. It’s not that hard going thankfully! About a third of the way along just past a grit bin there’s a path that leads off to the right, follow this up the slight incline and you’ll get the city view. Don’t stop there though, follow the path past the benches where it will curve to the left past another bench, about 30ft beyond this you get good open views to the Castle and Arthur’s Seat. It’s also pretty sheltered so in reasonable winds this is the place to be.
The other option is right at the top of the hill by the trig point. It’s a bit more walking and best done if the winds are light. Blackford is a very windy hill as it’s largely wide open to the East and West. So, continue up the path till you get near the communications mast, now you can either cut up one of the many little paths to take you to the top or continue on past the mast and follow the path uphill to the right which will take you to the west side of the hilltop.
From up here you have full panoramic views in every direction. The city lies to the north, east and west, to the south Braid Hill and the Pentlands. A stunning view no matter what time of day you choose to head up here.
Sitting to the North of the city centre on the Forth coastline, in the shadow if it’s bigger neighbour, Leith Docks, is Newhaven Harbour. Newhaven is the top sunset location in Edinburgh through the summer and by the number of photographers that flock to it every night the sun drops you can see why. Newhaven has a proper lighthouse to the north west edge of the harbour and it’s this that makes the location.
As a small harbour, Newhaven is also remarkably well sheltered especially from an East wind which means the reflections in the harbour are usually pretty good. In fact, Newhaven works well regardless of low or high tide. Time to visit is certainly sunset but that doesn’t mean a daytime visit won’t be productive as well!
Sticking to the Forth shoreline just a couple of miles upriver from Newhaven we find the historic village of Cramond, once the site of a Roman settlement in Scotland. Cramond has 2 main attractions in Summer, firstly the mouth of the River Almond which empties into the Forth here. The river mouth is home to dozens of small sailing boats in the summer which makes it particularly photogenic. Just half a mile upstream on the Almond there’s also a particularly nice man made waterfall well worth a look.
Cramond’s other attraction is the causeway which at low tide leads out to Cramond Island. The causeway is lined with old World War II small boat defences over it’s entire length making it a very interesting place to photograph. At low tide it’s easy enough to walk the causeway and hop over through the defences to the sand flats to get some new angles. Best time to be here is around 3 hours BEFORE high tide. At that time you can stand on the causeway and watch the tide start to flood it. Don’t go too far down, you risk getting cut off. It floods about three quarters the way along towards the island first and then works back to the elevated part of the causeway.
You can walk back with it and get some great shots as the water starts to fill in around you. Just make sure you get back to the elevated part before you get cut off or get wet feet. It’s easy to watch it but be safe and keep an eye on what’s happening around you. If you do want to go to the Island consult the board at the causeway entrance with the safe crossing times and give yourself plenty time to get there and back. It’s about a mile out so don’t underestimate it and become one of the statistics that have to get rescued by South Queensferry lifeboat every week. Most nights in the summer you can watch the waders who didn’t take note of the tide times in a panic trying to get back. Don’t be one of them!
The Forth Bridges
One of these MUST do locations. If you don’t do anything else, get down to the Forth Bridge. Locations are plentiful to get the best from this magnificent structure so here’s a few of the best.
If you come to South Queensferry by train you won’t fail to see the shot from Dalmeny Station, right down the tracks from the end of the platform. Best done at night it’s not one to miss.
Down in South Queensferry itself, the Hawes Pier offers many opportunities, be careful as it can get slippy especially right at the very bottom. Off to the east of the pier is a small road, follow this round for about 50 meters and you’ll see a small clearing with a good view to the Bridges, this is a top sunset location from April to October, well worth a look. You can get down on the beach here as well, again pretty slippy to be careful!
Using the Hawes Pier as a reference point, the car park area to the left is a good classic angle of the Forth Bridge and again, you can get down on the beach here quite easily. Following the road into the High Street will give you a good few locations with opportunities and once you reach the Orroco Pier, head down the little lane to Queensferry Harbour a small harbour with loads of photographic potential. If you’re driving, park in the Binks carpark for this location. Just to the west of the harbour there’s a tiny bit of beach, at high tide this is a nice location to catch the road bridge.
Still feeling fit? Come back up to the main street opposite the Police Station and head right. Keep going and after a few hundred meters you’ll find Port Edgar, the main harbour area. Walk in past the guard hut (they may be on duty at odd hours but usually happy to let you in if you explain why you are there) and turn down to your right. At the bottom of that road go right again past the toilets and then left and left again past the boats. You’ll see an area of grassland to your right, head over here and look up to the right, there’s a large gap in the fence, this is the area to get the Forth Bridge under the Road Bridge shot. A real Forth Bridges classic.
Part 3 coming soon, The Hidden Gems.