Today, I took another hop-on hop-off bus tour. This tour took us around Edinburgh, past the botanic gardens and finally to the Royal Motor Yacht Britannia.
The RMY Britannia was decommissioned in the late 1990’s after more than 40 years service to the royal family. Since decommissioning, it has been put in a heritage trust and on display to the general public. Doing the proper tour of the Britannia takes a couple of hours, especially if you use the self-guided audio tour thingy, which I did.
Though it was a royal yacht, it wasn’t overly posh, it was comfortable. There were a lot of furnishings on loan from the royal family and former crew. The various messes still had the pictures, trophies and what not from when the ship was in service. There was even a Rolls Royce on-board that used to travel with the royal family. (When it wasn’t on-board, the space was used to store beer.)
The engine room was incredible. Brass fittings, gleaming white paint and nothing out of place. And it looked like that all the time.
After hopping back on the bus tour, I headed to the train station and bought a cheap day return ticket to North Queensferry. North Queensferry is the town at the northern end of the Forth rail bridge, a massive bridge designed by Brunel in the 1800’s. It allows trains to cross the Firth of Forth and proceed on their way into the Kingdom of Fife. (Say that three times quickly!)
North Queensferry is a small town on the shore of the Firth. It is named after Queen Margaret who first visited the village about 900 years ago. She established the first ferry link between North and South Queensferry.
Going from the train station to the water’s edge involved walking down an extremely steep road with a couple of hairpin turns in it. Downtown North Queensferry has a couple of inns, restaurants and other touristy places. I couldn’t stay too long, though, because my return train to Edinburgh was going to be one of the last trains until Monday. The rail bridge was undergoing maintenance that weekend and the works possession meant that no trains would be crossing the bridge until late Sunday night or Monday morning.
Climbing back up the hill to the station, I noticed a spring in the side of the hill. A stone on it was dated 1783, but there was a plaque on it that indicated the cistern around it was built in celebration of sixty years of the reign of Queen Victoria. The train arrived in short order and I returned to Edinburgh.
I’d like to go back to North Queensferry and spend a day or two prowling around the town. There’s a legend that there’s a tunnel that runs from one of the pubs to an island in the firth.