Have you ever typed “cool things to do in city name here” into Google and actually hit the jackpot? I have to admit, most of the time when I try to use Google, I end up throwing in the towel within a few websites (go Pinterest!). You usually find the same information regurgitated on many different websites, which is a bummer. But once in a while, I find something that I want to go and check out immediately. Cramond Island was the result of one of these searches.
Even though we’ve been spending most of our time in Old Town watching street performers and taking in Fringe shows, we’ve also made sure to leave the city center. There are a ton of extra people in the city right now (roughly 1 million extra) and sometimes my anxieties just can’t handle being around all of them. So when I stumbled upon this little piece of paradise, I immediately wanted to go.
What is Cramond Island?
Cramond is a tidal island in the Firth of Forth and one of 43 islands that you can walk to in Great Britain. Connected to the mainland at low tide via the Drum Sands, once high tide hits the island is completely cut off. It’s a little over a third of a mile long and a bit less than that wide. At roughly 19 acres you can easily explore the entire island if you give yourself enough time with the tides.
While it’s currently owned by the Dalmeny Estate and uninhabited, Cramond Island has a really unique history that is still seen on the island today, making a really cool day trip out of Edinburgh.
An important role was played during World War II.
It’s thought that the island was used as far back as Roman times. There’s not much actual evidence for this; there was an important Roman fort built on the mainland, so it’s natural to assume they also built up the island. In the 1800’s the island was used mostly for sheep-grazing. You can still find the ruins of an old farm under some ivy if you know where to look!
By WWII the island was used mostly for defense, which you can still see all over the island. The first noticeable feature is the concrete “teeth” lining the causeway. These huge pillars were placed across the channel between the island and the mainland so that small crafts and U-Boats couldn’t pass through. As you step foot on the island you see the first gun emplacement complete with room for a searchlight.
Continuing to explore the island, you’ll notice that most of the buildings are on the northern side of the island. Here you can explore more gun emplacements, stores and engine rooms.
The weather cooperated with us on the day of our trip. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining and the wind was lightly blowing. We got to Cramond with plenty of time to enjoy the entire island before the tide came in. There were plenty of other people there with us, but nothing like the crushing crowds on the Royal Mile. It was a nice escape!
Walking up to the southern end of the island, we decided to take in the view-point first. We walked up the short, well-trodden path and enjoyed the 360° views of Cramond, Fife and the Forth Bridge. From there we followed the beach around the west side of the island, making our way towards the north side where we knew the WWII buildings still stood.
This part of the island was my favorite, even though it’s been vandalized quite severely. All of the buildings are covered with graffiti. There’s even some evidence of previous fires in some corners. Also watch your toes! Broken glass covers almost the entire island, but this area is particularly bad.
We ended up taking a picnic and enjoying the sun for the afternoon. It’s not every day in Scotland that the sun shines quite so brightly and I was going to soak up every last ray. It was a pleasant place to have a picnic! There were a lot of cute dogs that melted my heart and the nature views weren’t bad, either.
So, how do you get there?
Getting to Cramond Island is super easy! From downtown Edinburgh you can catch the 41 bus heading towards Cramond. You’re going to take this bus all the way to the end of the line, you’ll be looking to get off the bus at Cramond Glebe Road. As you’re walking down this road it’ll turn into Cramond Village road; follow it to the end and you’ll be at the beach, with Cramond Island in the distance!
Once you’re there, you need to check the tide table located at the entrance to the causeway. Don’t forget to do this! Due to the tide coming in quite quickly, tourists have been known to get stranded. Make sure you have enough time to walk out, explore the island, and walk back.
Our trip out to Cramond Island really was a great way to spend a Saturday. With little fuss to get there, we could both relax and enjoy the entire experience. Take some time to visit the little village of Cramond, it’s super cute! There’s also a great walking path along the River Almond if you don’t get too tired from exploring the island itself.
This weekend we’re heading to Liverpool to celebrate Ryan’s birthday again (since the Falkirk Wheel wasn’t enough), so I’ll be back next week with some new posts!