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Things to do in South Queensferry, Lothian

The Forth Rail Bridge from South Queensferry High Street © Mrs Calmyn Lamb

South Queensferry is a town of just over 12,000 residents about ten miles north of Edinburgh. Situated on the south bank of the Firth of Forth, it was originally a royal Burgh.

The queen after which the town was named is St Margaret, who was thought to have provided a ferry across the estuary for pilgrims traveling to St Andrews. When Margaret died in 1093, her coffin was appropriately carried to Dunfermline Abbey by ferry.

Margaret's son who became David I, gave Dunfermline Abbey the privileges of the ferry, and despite the building of the Firth of Forth Bridge there is still a call for a ferry service even today. The boats now provide a service to the islands in the Firth of Forth.

Another historic activity which is still continued today is the local fair. Started in the 12th century, the modern-day fair each August has a parade of floats, the crowning of the Ferry Fair Queen and a Boundary Race.

The "Burry Man" is a traditional part of the procession and his costume is covered in burrs from the sticky burdock plant. His slow and difficult walk is helped by two sticks, a couple of attendants and a glass of whisky, sipped through a straw, while children collect money on his behalf.

Present Day South Queensferry

The oldest building in the thriving town of South Queensferry is St Mary's Episcopal Church which was built in 1441. It is a rare surviving structure dating back to the Carmelite Order of Friars.

Black Castle has an interesting history. It was built in 1626 by a sea captain. He was lost at sea and word spread that his maid had paid a beggar to cast a spell to have him drowned. They were both found guilty and burned as witches.

Other buildings of note are the 17th century toll booth on the High Street with its 1720 clock tower and the National Trust owned Plewlands House, a lovely 17th century mansion.

The 17th century Hawes Inn was mentioned in the novel Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Other historic pubs in the High Street include The Stag, Anchor Inn, Ferry Tap, Boathouse, Orocco Pier and the Two Bridges.

There are also plenty of shops, bars and restaurants in South Queensferry giving visitors and residents a good choice of local amenities. In the Ferrrymuir part of the town there are many new commercial developments of supermarkets, fast food outlets and a hotel.

Things to do in South Queensferry

During the summer months the Maid of the Forth ferry takes visitors to Inchcombe Island in the Firth of Forth estuary. It runs from Hawes Pier and the trip offers excellent views of the Forth Bridge and the scenic coastline.

Hopetoun House is just two miles from South Queensferry. This Georgian mansion was designed by William Adam and Sir William Bruce and has been the family seat of the Earls of Hopetoun since 1699. The magnificent interior was the work of William Adam's two sons, John and the better-known Robert Adam.

To the east of the town the grand Dalmeny House is similarly splendid and is the home of the Earls of Roseberry. The house and notable gardens are open for tours during the summer.

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Images of South Queensferry

Rosyth to Zeebrugge Ferry from South Queensferry © Mrs Calmyn Lamb
Ferry passing under The Forth Road Bridge South Queensferry © Mrs Calmyn Lamb
The South Cantilever of Forth Bridge from South Queensferry © Mrs Calmyn Lamb
Cruise Ship berthed at The North Cantilever from South Queensferry © Mrs Calmyn Lamb

Interactive Map of South Queensferry

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* Distances shown are in a direct line. Distances by road will be longer.

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