Have you ever gotten into conversations with your taxi driver? Well, a few weeks ago I did, a very nice older gentleman who commented on the nice weather and offered me some suggestions on site seeing.
His suggestion was to go to Cramond Island. You may think that going to an island involves a boat ride, well, not in this case. You WALK to Cramond Island….yes, walk. The island lies off the east coast of Scotland, to the north of Edinburgh, an easy 50 minute bus ride from the city. It is a tidal island connected to the mainland at low tide. It is in the Firth of Forth, try saying that a few times.
A visit to Cramond Island takes a bit of planning. I began my research and found the tide schedule for the island and also information on the village of Cramond, the crossing point to the island. It so happened that the tide schedule and weather were forecast to cooperate for a Saturday trip. Low tide was forecast for 3pm and an article I read said that safe crossing begins two hours before low tide (1pm) and lasts two hours after low tide (5pm). People have become stranded on the island when the tide rose and they could not safely cross back. There are signs posted at the entrance to the walkway leading to the island with the tide schedule and warnings.
We arrived about two and half hours before we could cross to the island. The village is small, quiet and full of charm. There is one restaurant and no shops that I could see. There is an inn, The Cramond Inn and a beautiful church, Cramond Kirk. There are also some Roman ruins scattered throughout the village, including a bath house and fort.
We headed to the restaurant, the Cramond Gallery Bistro. It is on the River Almond, so after ordering we took photos of the sailboats, coastline and wildlife, especially the ducks and gorgeous swans!
What better to eat with a chill in the air than hot chocolate for Sam, cafe Vienna for me, and a piece of sponge (cake).
What to do for over an hour before we can cross to the island, especially to keep an active five year old entertained?? We decided to take a walk along a paved pedestrian way that paralleled the beach. It was full of walkers, two legged and four legged, that’s where we met Tonka.
We found an easy entry to the beach near a fish sculpture and how lucky for us. I had no idea that we would find such great beach combing. I love to beach comb, in Italy we hunted for tile on the beach in Vietri and in Japan we gathered tile, shells and seaglass in Uraga. The tide was going out in Cramond and a huge expanse of beach with pretty shells was exposed.
The low tide exposes a large area known as a mud flat or tidal sands. It is very cool to walk far out into them.
We returned to the village for some brief exploration, especially of the lovely cottages.
Close to 1pm we started to meander toward the shore to see if the water had receded enough to cross to the island.
We saw people had walked about half way across so we decided to start our crossing.
About to cross. We got almost half way, but there were a few areas that still had water deep enough not to walk through in shoes. Not deterred, we took our shoes off and waded in.
We made it to the island! Some military buildings constructed during WWII still exist.
There is some good hiking on the island and wild blackberries were abundant.
We picked blackberries as we hiked through some fairly lush growth until we reached another abandoned building.
Past this building we reached another coastal area that had another old building.
This coastal area had a great beach that we had all to ourselves. It had some good shells and beach combing. I even found a few pieces of tile. We have started a beach jar with the items we found.
The jar will remind us of this quiet and fun day in a less discovered area of Edinburgh that a friendly taxi driver shared with us.