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Tour Scotland, The River Forth

This historic river has its beginnings in two streams which rise high up in the mountains of south-west Perthshire. The first of them is Duchray Water which rises some 3.000 feet up on the slopes of Ben Lomond. It runs down through Glen Dubh, being joined by a sister stream from the slopes below Ben Vrackie. Duchray Water passes by the old castle in the Forest of Loch Ard. Just short of
Aberfoyle. at Milton. it is joined in its course by the Avondhu which has its origins above Loch Katrine.

The journey to its contluence with Duchray Water takes it along the line of Loch Chon and Loch Ard. From Aberfoyle the fledgling river Forth flows into the flat plains of Flanders Moss and Drip Moss, taking a
meandering and slothful course that covers the eighteen miles to Stirling in more than twice that distance. It is fed on its way by several other tributaries, the most significant of which is the river Goodie which flows from the Lake of Menteith.

Just above Stirling the Allan Water comes in from Dunblane and the river Teith enters the Forth from Callander and the Braes of Doune. Standing astride the main route into the Highlands from the south, Stirling was for centuries a highly important strategic city and its
military past is emphasised by the domination of the old castle high on its 360 feet high rock. To take, or protect,
this key to the land and the fertile region that surrounds it, many vital battles were ftught, the most famous being those by Wallace at Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the victory of Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314 which secured Scotland’s right to proclaim itself an independent kingdom on an equal footing with England.

Beyond Stirling and the great abbey of Cambuskenneth on the river’s bank, the Forth starts to widen dramatically and is bordered by rich pastureland known as the ‘Links of Forth’. Alloa, standing on its northern shores just before the estuary broadens out below Kincardine, is a
small seaport and manufacturing town. The bridge at Kincardine is of the centre-swing type and was, for many
years, the last road bridge across the river before the sea.

Evidence of the rapid industrialisation of the estuary becomes apparent with the great oil refinery at Grangemouth and the chemical plants at Bo’ness, both on the south bank. Along the northern bank can be seen Rosyth, once a large Naval base, and Inverkeithing, while between North and South Queensferry the river is dominated by the great and graceful Forth Road Bridge which was opened by H.M. the Queen in 1964. A mile and a half long and costing £16,000,000, this impressive
structure was the first long-span bridge built in Scotland of the suspension type and replaces the old ferry.

Just downstream from the road bridge is the still magnificent rail bridge. This enormous structure, which took seven years to build, was opened by the Prince
of Wales (later King Edward VII) in March, 1890. It cost £3’/2 million and 51,000 tons of steel were used in its
construction. The story goes that thirty-five men take 3’/2 years to paint the bridge and on completion it is time for them to start all over again. Below the bridges the Firth of Forth widens considerably on its way to the
open sea past the islands of lnchcolm, with its abbey, Cramond, and the larger Inchkeith, with its famous lighthouse, while standing watch in lonely isolation
at the mouth of the Firth is the Isle of May on which are the remains of the chapel of St. Adrian.

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