Cramond Island is one of many small uninhabited islands that can be found along the Scottish coastline close to Edinburgh . If you are in Edinburgh and feel like escaping the city life for some fresh sea air and country walks then this is the place to go. Just a short bus ride from the city center will take you to the small village of Cramond. It’s here that you will find Cramond Island reached at low tide along a ¾ mile causeway.
If you decide to visit the Island then you must plan for the tides as you don’t want to end up stranded. Generally its safest to walk across in the morning around 8-9 am but these times can change so its best to check tidal times the day before. Tidal times can be found here and also on a notice board next to the causeway on the mainland side. It is really important to take notice to these times as the tide does come in very quickly and many tourists have been left for stranded for hours.
I wasn’t really planning to visit Cramond Island whilst in Edinburgh but felt like I needed a break from wandering the busy Edinburgh streets. I didn’t check the times beforehand and just hoped I’d be lucky enough to get there in time. I bought the £4 day ticket and hopped on the number 41 bus from the city center and headed off into the unknown. I wasn’t really sure where to get off the bus, so I downloaded the Transport for Edinburgh app which came in very handy. Once on the bus I could track my position along the route and made finding my stop very easy! I definitely recommend downloading this app if travelling to Edinburgh! The journey itself took around 30 mins. Once off the bus I walked down towards the coast where I was met with some stunning views of the Scottish coastline and Cramond harbour.
Luckily I arrived just in time. I got there around 9 am and had only 1 hour left to be able to make it across and back again safely, so I headed straight over. The causeway itself is a lovely short 10 min walk and you can watch all types of birds digging for food along the way, if ya lucky you might even come across some crabs. Once on the Island the views are stunning, you can see right across the Forth river towards the famous Forth railway bridge and the new road bridge alongside.
The island is approximately 19 acres and rises to 68 meters above sea level making it an easy island to explore for a few hours. Unfortunately I only had around 30 minutes on the island but it was enough to take in the beautiful views and explore a little.
The island itself is now owned by the Dalmeny Estate but it was originally used to graze sheep, you can find remains of an old farmstead and an old jetty dating back to the 1800’s on the north side of the island. It is also thought to have once been the site of a Roman fort but there is no evidence to back this up. However in 1977 a very important Roman sculpture was discovered in the riverbed. The sculpture, a carved sandstone lioness is thought to be a Roman funerary monument, although how it found its way here is a mystery. Some believe it fell off a boat whilst others believe it was purposely dumped in the river.
The island also played its part during both World Wars. During World War 1 it was taken over by the war department and used to defend the Forth and then again in World War 2. During this time many military structures where built including several gun emplacements. Even the design of the causeway with its imposing concrete teeth were built to prevent German U-boats and other similar craft from passing through the harbor at high tide.
Once back safely on the mainland I had plenty of time to spare so I decided to take a walk down one of the walking trails in the area. There are a few different walks to choose from but I choose the River Almond Walkway which took me around two miles from the Cramond foreshore to the historic Cramond Brig.
The River Almond once powered five mills, originally grain but later converted to iron working. As you walk along the trail you will come across the ruins of Fair-a-Far Mill, this mill was once the heart of Cramond’s industrial revolution. Ships came from as far as Russia and Sweden and brought iron to Cockle Mill just down stream where it was made into strips. These strips were then taken to Fair-a-Far Mill where they were melted down by huge furnaces to make tools, chains and cart axles. Eventually the the iron industry in Cramond closed down and the mill became a paint factory. However a flood in 1935 damaged the building beyond repair of which the remains still remain.
As the trail continues you will be met with some stunning scenery as well as a lovely cozy cafe to have a bit of lunch or a quick coffee. However after this point some parts of the trail do require you to go up and down a series of stairs, so if this is an issue then its best to end the trail at the cafe.
If you manage to finish the trail you will reach the lovely Cramond Brig, this leads you back onto the main road where you can then either catch the bus back into Edinburgh city center or go further afield and check out South Queensferry and the famous Forth railway bridge.
Cramond Island is a fascinating and peaceful place, it makes an ideal trip to escape the hoards of tourists in Edinburgh. Its easy to get to and great for those on a budget! Have you been to Edinburgh, have you heard of Cramond Island? If so let me know in the comments below.
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