Forth Road Bridge Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents


Summary

The Forth Road Bridge is one of the most significant long-span suspension bridges in the world, with a length of 1,006 metres between the two end towers.

It is located next to the UNESCO heritage-status Forth Rail Bridge and features a footpath that allows visitors to walk between both ends of the structure.

The Forth Bridges

The highlights

1: The views across the Firth of Forth from the Forth Road Bridge are spectacular and now that traffic has been diverted onto the new bridge it’s relatively quiet too.

2: There’s a superb viewpoint on the Edinburgh side of the road bridge which also has a commemorative display of the bridge’s opening.

3: There are lots of other places to visit near the Forth Bridges. If you stay on the Edinburgh side I recommend having a look around South Queensferry before heading west to Hopetoun House.

Forth Bridges

Visiting tips

1: The Forth Road bridge is occasionally closed for maintenance and bad weather so check the official website for updates before departing.

2: Take an engraved padlock ‘love lock’ to place on the bridge railings. You’ll find the love lock railings midway on the path in the centre of the bridge.

3: If you enjoy your time walking across the Forth Road Bridge you might be interested in getting closer to the water.

Two nearby sites that will let you do that are Cramond Island where you can stroll across a walkway (at low tide) and Inchcolm Island which you can visit on an organised boat tour from South Queensferry.


Overview

You might be wondering why a bridge has been included in a website about Scotland’s tourist attractions, but bear with me because I think the Forth Road Bridge is well worth taking the time to visit if you come to explore Edinburgh and the Lothians.

This bridge is enormous and still impresses visitors more than fifty years after opening, but it’s the views from the footpath that draw in tens of thousands of cyclists and walkers each year.

As you cross the span between South and North Queensferry you can view an amazing panorama across the Firth of Forth, with Fife in one direction and Edinburgh and East Lothian in the other, and it’s probably the closest you’ll get to the iconic Forth Rail Bridge without actually hopping on a train.

The Forth Road Bridge is one of the most significant long-span suspension bridges in the world with a length of 1,006 metres between the two main towers and a total length of 2.5km end to end.

When the bridge was opened in 1964 by Queen Elizabeth II it was the longest bridge in Europe and the fourth-longest bridge in the world, with the three longer bridges located in the United States.

forth road bridge

Tourist information

The road bridge stands 46 metres above the Forth river which flows underneath it and due to the fact that it runs between North and South Queensferry it offers fantastic views of the Edinburgh and Fife coastlines.

The Forth Road Bridge is one of three bridges that cross the Forth, with the unmistakable red Forth Rail Bridge on one side and the new Queensferry Crossing Bridge on the other.

As you follow the pedestrianized section of the bridge you’ll likely stop and take a good look at the Forth Rail Bridge which runs alongside it.

Built in 1890, the red-painted rail bridge was regarded as the eighth wonder of the world at the time of its construction and to be honest it’s still an impressive example of Scottish engineering today.

Forth Bridge

With an overall length of 2,467 metres and standing 137 metres above its foundations, The Forth Rail Bridge was once likened to the Eiffel Tower and even though it’s not as pretty it was deemed significant enough to be given UNESCO world heritage status in 2015.

Another thing to note as you continue your walk between the banks of the Forth are hundreds of padlocks secured to mesh railings on the Forth Road Bridge, left there by lovers of all ages over the course of many years.

So if you’re taking in the view with a partner you might decide to place your own ‘love lock’ there as well.

One negative point about visiting the bridge is that it can be a bit noisy with passing traffic, but now that the majority of vehicles are diverted onto the new Queensferry Crossing it’s a lot quieter than it once was.

Even so, I’d think twice before taking your four-legged friends with you on a walk across it.

Forth Bridge

The South Queensferry side of the bridge has a visitor station that describes the construction of the bridge as well its history. There is also a public car park and a viewing platform along with a temporary snack kiosk.

To find it, head to Ferry Muir road near the bridge entry point and take the turning onto Ferrymuir Gate. The car park is 500 feet down this road and the footpath onto the bridge begins another 500 feet past the car park.

Find more places to visit in the area with my Scottish Tourist Attractions Map.

History

The first proposals for a road bridge across the Firth of Forth were raised with the Scottish government in 1923, just as private cars were becoming increasingly popular.

Before the bridge was built motorists had to cross the Forth via a small ferry which was slow and awkward to make regular journeys on.

With the citizens of Edinburgh clamouring to make frequent trips to the north of the country it was inevitable that a road bridge would eventually be built.

One of the biggest construction feats that were accomplished during the building of the bridge was the manufacture of over 30,000 miles of high-tensile steel wires that had to be wound together to create the main cables.

The Forth Rail Bridge & Road Bridge

This was a system that was so new to Europe a special school had to be built in South Queensferry just to teach the construction workers how to spin the wires together.

The bridge was finally completed in 1964, 6 years after construction first started and by that point an incredible 40,000 tonnes of steel and 125,000 cubic metres of concrete had gone into its construction.

The total cost was around £19.5 million, an immense sum for the early 1960s and it marked the bridge as one of the most costly engineering endeavours in Scotland.


Tourist map of Scotland

Although there’s a car park at the Forth Bridge offices on the south side of the bridges, it’s often easier to park in South Queensferry and follow the footpaths.

South Queensferry,
West Lothian,
EH30 9SF

Filter by

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Edinburgh – 350 Explorer.

Edinburgh – 66 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

Forth Bridges Viewpoint. Newton, Broxburn EH30 9SN. 6-minute drive. The Forth Rail Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is best seen from this viewpoint on an elevated position just outside of South Queensferry.

The small platform has parking for around 5 cars and offers stunning views across the three bridges and the Firth of Forth.

Forth Boat Tours. 2 Hawes Brae, South Queensferry EH30 9TB. 7-minute drive. South Queensferry is the main departure point for pleasure cruises up and down the Firth of Forth as well as visits to Inchcolm Abbey. Ferries operate from the pier in the village centre.

Hopetoun House. South Queensferry EH30 9RW. 12-minute drive. Stately home built in the 17th century that is set on outstanding grounds.

The house is open to the public for guided tours and there is a highly-rated restaurant in a converted stable block. The 6,500-acre estate is home to Midhope Castle (seen in the TV series Outlander) and a number of walking trails.

House of The Binns. Binns View, Linlithgow EH49 7NA. 13-minute drive. A grand 17th-century country manor house that was home to the Dalyell family but is now managed by the National Trust for Scotland.

In addition to tours through the house there is a parkland trail and a woodland walk on the expansive grounds.

Blackness Castle. Linlithgow EH49 7NH. 16-minute drive. A 15th-century fortress overlooking the Firth of Forth. Blackness Castle is known as the ‘ship that never sailed’ due to its unusual bow-shaped front.

The castle features restored rooms, a Victorian pier and a military barracks with a shop and toilets. Nearby Blackness Bay has footpaths running along the shoreline.


Frequently asked questions

How do I get to the Forth Road Bridge?

The Forth Road Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the Firth of Forth between North Queensferry and South Queensferry.
Address: South Queensferry, West Lothian, EH30 9SF

Directions map: Google Maps

Is the Forth Road Bridge open to cars?

The Forth Road Bridge is not open to cars. However, it has restricted access for buses and taxis and is fully open to cyclists and pedestrians.

How long does it take to walk over the Forth Road Bridge?

The Forth Road Bridge is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) which takes an average 45 minutes to walk.

Can you put love locks on the Forth Road Bridge?

Visitors can put love locks on the Forth Road Bridge. There are several steel grates on the side of the walkway where love locks can be attached.