Did you know there is an Edinburgh island you can walk to? When the sun is shining in Edinburgh and the tide is low, make your way to Cramond Island- a tidal island that lies in the Firth of Forth.
What is a tidal island, you may be thinking? It’s an island that can be accessed by foot when the tide is low, usually by a man-made causeway. At high tide (when the water flows back to the shore) the footpath that leads to the island becomes inaccessible.
Cramond Island is the perfect half-day trip from Edinburgh. On the island you can see the remains of old military buildings from World War II. There is also some incredible history in Cramond village nearby- including an old Roman Fort that was built in 140AD!
The island is no longer inhabited, and it’s now referred to as a ‘ghost island.’ It is fairly small at just 0.3 miles long, and the causeway path is just 500 metres, so you can walk around the entire island in less than 2 hours. The large grassy areas on the island makes it the perfect spot for a picnic, and you can take off your shoes and stroll along the sandy beach, looking for seashells.
I visited the island on a warm, summer day with friends. We had the perfect day walking around the island, taking photos, and exploring the ancient history.
How to get to this Edinburgh Island
Getting to Cramond Island is super easy. From the city centre, take bus 41 from Princes Street. There are also other bus options (29, 27 and 37) from the city centre. It takes around 40 minutes by bus to arrive. From the bus stop there is a short walk to get to the causeway that will lead you to the island. A single bus ticket will cost you £1.70 or £4 for an all-day ticket. Buses run fairly regularly, at least once an hour.
There is a free car park in Cramond but it’s often busy on weekends, so if you plan on driving, allow yourself plenty of time. Remember, when it’s low tide everyone will flock to the island!
Cramond Island Tide Times
Before you visit Cramond island, ensure that you check the tide times! It is entirely possible for visitors to become stranded on the Edinburgh island if they don’t make their way back when the tide rolls in. People have been rescued after getting stuck on the island before, so make sure you’re not one of them.
The causeway can be crossed for up to 2 hours either side of low tide. There is a board at the start of the crossing that has the safe crossing times so always check that before you cross.
I recommended arriving early before the tide is due to go, and using the spare time to take a walk along the seafront promenade to the right before crossing over to the island.
You can check the tide times online here.
What should you wear?
Weather can always be unpredictable in Edinburgh, with rain and wind making regular appearances on the island. I love my Rab waterproof jacket. It’s super lightweight, good quality, great for layering and is fashionable enough to be worn in the city or hiking in the highlands.
Jeans and a plaid shirt layered over a singlet is a good outfit to wear. It can get quite boggy and wet on the island, so make sure you wear waterproof shoes or sandals you can easily remove if you want to feel the sand between your toes!
Make sure you bring your camera to capture some great snaps, and bring a towel to sit on as the ground is often damp.
Things to do and see on Cramond island
There is an easy walk that circumnavigates Cramond island, which will take you past the many graffitied ruins dotted throughout the island.
Many of the ruins were once military defences, built during World War II to prevent invasion from the Forth. When the expected invasion never came, the island was deserted.
The pylons that form a line down the causeway were also built during World War II to ensure boats could not access the south side of the island.
Look out for Duck House, which was once a holiday home that could accommodate up to four people.
The highest point of the island offers views of Granton and Leith to the east; North Queensferry and the Forth Rail bridge to the west; and other islands located in the Firth of Forth to the north. You can also see Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat on a clear day.
If you fancy something to eat or drink after exploring the island, head to Cramond Gallery Bistro. Keep to the right as you reach the mainland, and follow the path along the water. You’ll find it behind the public toilets, opposite the firth.
Other things to do near Cramond Island
Next to Cramond Island is the village of Cramond– which has an interesting history itself, thanks to its ties with Roman history.
In the village there is a Roman archaeological site called the Cramond Roman Fort. The settlement was build around 140AD (during the time of Emperor Antonius Pius) and occupied until 170AD when the Romans retreated to the safety of Hadrian’s Wall. It was also occupied from 208 to 214AD, and served as the main supply base for the Roman forces in Scotland. The harbour facilities nearby would have been used for unloading food and military supplies from vessels which had sailed from southern Britain and the Rhine.
Near the Roman Fort is Cramond Tower, which is thought to have been built in the fifteenth century by the Bishops of Dunkeld.
One of the most important Roman discoveries also occured in Cramond; the statue of the Cramond lioness was discovered here. The Roman-era sculpture was recovered in 1997 from the mouth of the nearby River Almond, where it lay hidden for 1800 years. The sandstone monument is thought to be part of a tomb, probably for a high-ranking Roman officer. It is on display at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Eagle Rock or Hunter’s Craig is an Historic Environment Scotland scheduled monument located .5 of a mile north-west of Cramond. It is possible that a Roman soldier was commissioned to carve the 6 metre rock into the shape of an eagle.
Located 2 kilometres away is Dalmeny House, a Gothic revival mansion. You can follow the John Muir Way from Cramond to reach this awe-inspiring mansion.
Just north of Dalmeny House is Barnbougle Castle, a tower house. It is thought to date back to the 13th century, however the present castle was rebuilt in 1881. Today it is used as a wedding venue.
Have you visited Cramond Island? What did you think?
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