Sometimes, stepping away from routine and being a tourist in your own country is the most refreshing change.
Whether it’s breaking away to the hills for a hike, taking a road trip out of the city, or indeed heading to the seaside for a good old fish supper, there is a restorative power in a change of scene. That’s where a trip on the Maid of the Forth came in; the chance to see the famous bridges from a different angle was the perfect midsummer antidote to city routine.
And I’ll be the first to admit to having whizzed across both the Forth Road and the Rail Bridge for many years, and more recently the Queensferry Crossing, without thinking much of it. Like most car and train journeys, they had become part of the foggy haze of the everyday. But after a cruise along the Forth, I was reminded of just how beautiful Scotland is.
With a 3-hour folk cruise, a 2-hour fizz on the Forth cruise, or a 3-hour jazz cruise to choose from, we were spoiled for choice, but the Trad fans within us couldn’t resist an evening of Scottish country tunes and toe tapping.
As we made our way to South Queensferry port on a beautifully calm June evening, the sun even made a star appearance. Climbing aboard the Maid of the Forth, we were warmly welcomed by the crew, captained by Duncan MacRae. A former commercial diver, Duncan hung up his kit and switched to cruising boats around 22 years ago; and he knows these waters like the back of his hand.
Taking us off up towards Leith from Hawes Pier, it was a little breezy, so we sat inside at the back of the boat – the ideal vantage point for enjoying the pink and yellow pastels appearing in the sky as the sun set. Some braver souls stayed on the decks above.
A highlight of the trip was stopping off to see some resident seals, as well as some interesting ruins along the way. Some of the more inquisitive seals sleepily glanced in our direction, but ultimately decided our presence wasn’t worth exploring further, so remained in their slumber spot. It was beautiful being able to see them so close.
The folk band, by this point, were fully warmed up, setting the perfect country tone for the cruise. Plenty songs about good ol’ whisky – they definitely knew how to get the crowd going.
The Maid of the Forth had a fully-stocked bar and the option of a BBQ steak dinner, (which needs to be pre-booked), so everyone was well catered for. Truthfully, though, we were beaten by the colossal steak baguette presented to us – a hearty sailors’ meal – and we didn’t feel we needed it when we had such brilliant views to admire.
By the time we had circled back towards the bridges, the skies had darkened just enough for us to see them lit up in all their glory.
As we turned around on ourselves, we were treated to the sight of all three bridges aligned. Taking a moment to appreciate the magnificent of the everyday, you realise what remarkable feats of engineering they are, standing proud as beautiful landmarks of Scotland.
Chatting with skipper Duncan MacRae as we turned for home, it seems that even for him, the novelty of seeing the bridges at nighttime never wears off.
For more information or to book tickets, visit the Maid of the Forth website.