Cramond Island near Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide

Created by Craig Smith. Last updated on March 2nd, 2021

Cramond Island is a tidal island in the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh that is reached via a long walkway formed from the remains of a WWII anti-tank barricade. The island is mostly covered in grassland though there are a couple of small beach areas on the side facing Cramond village.

Cramond Island

Review of Cramond Island

Situated just over 3/4 of a mile into the Firth of Forth, Cramond Island is a tidal landmass located close the village of Cramond near Edinburgh.

Access to the island is via a causeway that leads from the water’s edge of the village along a WWII anti-tank barricade, and from the minute you step foot on the concrete causeway you’re given glorious 360-degree views of the Firth of Forth with the Fife coastline in front and the Forth bridges and City of Edinburgh on either side.

This is a tourist attraction that’s less ‘tourist’ and more ‘local’, mainly because it only seems to be known about by the people who live in the area, but if you’re planning to visit Edinburgh I really think you should do yourself a favour and add Cramond Island to your itinerary.

Cramond Island

This part of the Firth of Forth seems to be a bit of an afterthought with Scotland’s visitors which is a real shame as it has so much to offer, especially when it’s so close to the capital city (the centre of Edinburgh is just 7 miles away) but you can easily solve this by catching a bus (look for Lothian Buses routes 41, 32 and 36).

The island offers a short walk but its main feature is the fact that you can find a quiet spot to lie in the sun with the sound of the Forth’s waves lapping on the small stretches of sand that ring the island.

It’s this ability to easily escape from the city that makes Cramond Island so popular with locals – and also why it gets incredibly busy at the weekend in summer.

SEE ALSO:  The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye: The Complete Visitor Guide

But if you can get out there mid-week I guarantee you’ll have a relaxing experience. Just make sure you check the tide times that are posted outside the walkway entrance before you depart. When the tide returns the causeway is completely submerged so you’ll have trouble getting back to the mainland if you misjudge the time.

If you’d like to find more places to visit in Edinburgh take a look at my Scottish Tourist Attractions Map.

Cramond Island

Things to do at Cramond Island

If you choose to drive there instead of taking the bus you’ll find that parking in Cramond village can be a bit hit-or-miss depending on the weather, so if it’s a sunny weekend be prepared to park a fair distance away and walk down to the coastline.

The facilities in Cramond are decent as it has a cafe and pub and you’ll usually find a van selling ice cream which goes down well while you’re strolling along the walkway, and there’s a public toilet near the causeway entrance.

There are lots of walks leading out of Cramond along the River Almond so if you’re unable to get onto the island due to the tides I highly recommend you follow the riverside path instead.

It’s a lovely alternative but can be a bit meandering so to prevent yourself getting lost you should consider getting an OS map that covers the area. Buy OS Explorer Maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

The island is only a third of a mile across but the walk there and through it is particularly beautiful on a sunny day.

The crossing to Cramond Island allows you to view lots of rock pools left behind by the departing tide and children will love going on the hunt for the crabs and small fish that get inevitably caught in them.

Cramond Island

The causeway only takes around ten minutes to cross at which point you’ll find yourself on a small shingle beach with a small hill that was once home to a WWII lookout post. Climbing up here provides stunning views across the Forth and it’s a good photo opportunity before heading out to explore the rest of the area.

A word of caution here though – people obviously get caught short on the island and decide to use the bunkers as impromptu toilets so they stink to high heaven when it’s warm. If you go inside stick a peg on your nose and watch what you step on…

SEE ALSO:  St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide

The highest point of Cramond Island lies 68 feet above sea level and it’s a good vantage point to look over to nearby Granton and Leith, with North Queensferry and the famous Forth Road Bridge clearly visible to the west.

To the north, you can view the coast of Fife as well as the other small islands that are dotted around the estuary.

The island is uninhabited apart from several species of seabirds that reside all along the Forth and the small areas of woodland and wild grasses are home to many insect species.

Although there aren’t any designated picnic areas on the island the north side is especially quiet and is perfect for an afternoon break away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh.

Please note that there are no rubbish bins on the island so you’ll have to take the remains of your picnic home with you.

Cramond Island

Cramond beach

I can’t really talk about Cramond Island without mentioning the nearby Cramond beach as it’s one of the nicest outdoor spaces in Edinburgh.

Ok, to be completely accurate I’d have to say Cramond beach is located in a suburb of Edinburgh, but the reality is that it’s near enough that most locals consider Cramond as an extension of the city.

The beach is just 5 miles from the city centre on the estuary of the River Almond and while it doesn’t look like much when the tide is in, when it goes out you’ll realise just how big it is.

There’s a large car park just above the beach which has toilets nearby along with a nice wee pub, and there’s usually an ice cream van nearby if you want a choc-ice or two. Or three. Yum!

You can access Cramond beach via a short causeway though most people tend to stay off the beach and go for a stroll down the promenade that faces it.

This short section of path offers beautiful views across the Firth of Forth and gets quite busy with cyclists, but thankfully it’s wide enough that you won’t have to worry about a rogue bike steaming into you from behind.

The dog-friendly beach is nice enough but as it’s completely submerged by the tide it’s also quite muddy. Even so, on a sunny day it offers a lovely walk and it’s worth taking the time to explore it if you’re already here to see Cramond Island.

SEE ALSO:  Doune Castle in Central Scotland: The Complete Visitor Guide

Discover more attractions in the city with my Edinburgh articles.

Cramond Island

The history of Cramond Island

The island was mainly used for farming throughout its history and it’s suspected that the Romans made extensive use of the site for cattle grazing as their remains have been found all around the area near Cramond village.

At the north-west corner of the island you’ll find a medieval jetty made from local stone, while the centre hides a small stone-built farmstead which is believed to have been built in the 18th-century.

The island was fortified for use as a lookout post and gun emplacement during the second world war and the remains of these military buildings are still standing today.

During the war, a garrison of soldiers were stationed on Cramond Island to protect central Scotland from invaders crossing up the Firth of Forth, and the remains of barrack buildings can still be seen in the undergrowth.

The highlights

  • Cramond Island is a very attractive natural attraction close to Edinburgh that doesn’t feel like you’re near the capital city. That’s perhaps why it’s so popular with locals.
  • There are loads of places to explore on Cramond Island as well as the surrounding area, including the Cramond boardwalk and the River Almond.
  • All ages can enjoy Cramond Island but young children will especially like exploring the rock pools on the walkway.

Visiting tips

  • Some of the old WWII bunkers are full of broken glass so keep children and animals out of there.
  • Keep an eye on the tide times so you don’t get stranded and have to call the rescue services. There’s an information board at the start of the walkway in Cramond.
  • Another island in the Forth of Forth that’s worth visiting is Inchcolm Island, although you’ll have to book a ferry from South Queensferry to get there.

blank

Things to do near Cramond Island

  • Dalmeny House. South Queensferry EH30 9TQ. 14-minute drive. A Gothic country mansion built in 1817 that is home to the Earls of Rosebery. The house is open to the public for guided tours in summer only.
  • Lauriston Castle. 2 Cramond Rd S, Edinburgh EH4 6AD. 6-minute drive. A 16th-century castle in the style of a Georgian manor house. The castle overlooks the Firth of Forth and features expansive grounds with a woodland walk and a Japanese garden.
  • Silverknowes Beach. Edinburgh EH4 5ER. 1-minute walk. A large shingle and sand beach that is famed for its views across the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island. There is a large car park and a wide causeway next to the Gipsy Brae recreation ground.
  • River Almond Walkway. Caddell’s Row, Cramond, Edinburgh EH4 6HY. 11-minute walk. This picturesque footpath follows the River Almond from Cramond to the outskirts of Edinburgh Airport. The walkway is suitable for cyclists and walkers.
  • Forth Bridges Viewpoint. 9XY, South Queensferry. 10-minute drive. The Forth Rail Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is best seen from this viewpoint at the Forth Bridge operations centre. From the car park it is possible to walk onto the footpath that runs along the Forth Road Bridge.
SEE ALSO:  The Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide

Address and map

Cramond Island is located five miles north-west of Edinburgh city centre.

Cramond is accessible on the 41 bus from Edinburgh city centre (George Street or Queensferry Road).

Click map for directionsGoogle Map of cramond island scotland


Opening times

The island is open all year round but access is tidal. There is no fee to enter Cramond Island.

Take heed of the tide information and warning signs posted at the landward end of the causeway.


Contact details

Tide times website: The Beach Guide


Streetview

Scotland 360 Photo Tour
Click image to view 360 photos

Photos and video

Photo Gallery
Click image to view photo gallery

More places to visit in Edinburgh

  • The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide
    The Balmoral Hotel is a historic building situated in the heart of Princes Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. The luxury hotel is located next to Waverley train station and was built in 1902 by the North British Railway Company. Today, it is a popular landmark that attracts visitors to its superb restaurants and bars.
  • Real Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide
    The Real Mary King’s Close is a tourist attraction located in the middle of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. The attraction allows visitors to step beneath the streets of Edinburgh into an underground labyrinth where the stories of the city’s past residents unfold through a series of exhibits and displays.
  • St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide
    St. Giles Cathedral has been a focal point for religious activity in Edinburgh for over 900 years, although the present structure that we see today can trace its roots back to the 14th century. Due to its central location on The Royal Mile, St. Giles has become a popular tourist attraction and is an ideal stop-off point between excursions to the palace and the castle.
  • The Grassmarket in Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide
    Edinburgh’s Grassmarket is a bustling square in the heart of the city’s Old Town. This historic site is surrounded by classic tenement buildings that line the roads along the iconic West Bow and Victoria Street but it’s best known for the lively pubs and restaurants that offer superb outside seating areas. The Grassmarket is one of the oldest parts of Edinburgh and it was originally used as a marketplace for horses and cattle.
  • Leith in Edinburgh: The Complete Visitor Guide
    Leith is a historic district of Edinburgh that centres around the Water of Leith, Leith harbour, and the restaurant-packed Shore. The district has a rich maritime history but it is now a popular tourist destination thanks to its combination of trendy bars, award winning restaurants, superb shopping areas and attractions including the Royal Yacht Britannia.

SEE ALSO:  The Holy Isle, Arran: The Complete Visitor Guide

blank

Cramond Island
blank

Craig Smith

I'm the founder of Out About Scotland. I live in Edinburgh and I love visiting Scotland's tourist attractions... Read more. Follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.