Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Inchcolm Abbey

We took a quick day trip to the Inchcolm Abbey which on an island in the mouth of the Firth of Forth.  (I don’t know where the “Firth of Third” is or the Second or the First)  By now you are probably asking, “What is a Firth?”  In Scotland it is used to describe a large sea bay, or even a strait.  A firth is generally a large river coming into the sea, where “erosion caused by the tidal effects of incoming sea water passing upriver has widened the riverbed into an estuary”.  The movement of the tide is very obvious in the firth…but I digress. 

We took a ferry from the village of South Queensferry near the old rail bridge that crosses the firth going to Dunfermline and north to Dundee.  This bridge was completed in 1890 following a disastrous bridge collapse over the Firth of Tay near Dundee a few years earlier.  What is often called the “rail bridge” is regarded as an engineering marvel.  It is 1.6 miles in length, and the double train track is elevated 151 ft. above the water level at high tide.  A representation of the Forth Bridge appears on the 2004 issue one the pound coin.  The 2007 series of banknotes issued by the Bank of Scotland depicts different bridges in Scotland as examples of Scottish engineering, and the £20 note features the Forth Bridge

 This is the train bridge going across to Dundee and places farther North.

 The bridge to the left is the auto bridge to cross the Firth.  This is the dock where the ferry comes in.  On the return trip the tide had gone out and the ferry docked farther down the ramp near the last light post.  That part of the dock is under water in this picture.

 I found these pictures on the internet showing the rail bridge

 The bridge at night...

From the air...  You can see the two bridges that cross the Firth.  The one on the left is for cars, lorries, and buses...the one on the right is for trains.  (Dunfermline is the town over the bridge to the left about 5 miles inland.)

 This is South Queensferry looking back from the dock.  This is a typical little Scottish village on the sea.  I'll need to take some picture of the town to who the narrow roads.  We were planning to walk down through the town, but when we came back it was raining too heavily.

The ride on the ferry was a wee bit rough as the wind was strong coming off the North Sea.  The first building on the island was built in the early part of the 12th century.  The name Inchcolm means “Island of Colm”.  Little is known about St. Colm but he chose this tiny island in the Firth of Forth as his hermitage.  Tradition indicates that Alexander I (King of Scotland) was given shelter on the island in 1123 which led to the Abbey’s foundation.  This tiny island has not always been a haven of peace and tranquility.  During its history as an Augustinian monastery – and more recently as an integral part of the defenses of the Forth – it has seen more than its fair share of war.  The abbey was expanded throughout the next two centuries.

 This was the view of the Abbey as we came off the ferry.

 The ferry docket to the right and this is the "other side: of the island...just a narrow neck of land.

 Part of the original buildings which were built during the 12th centruy

This is the main part of the Abbey.

 Looking back to where the ferry came in to dock on the island.

During the First World War, the Firth of Forth became one of the most heavily defended estuaries in Britain.  The island was used by the military to defend the newly completed naval base at Rosyth which is just a few miles up the firth.  During World War II the island was again fortified.  Searchlights were installed and the Royal Artillery manned the defensive efforts to protect Rosyth.  A garrison of 500 men were temporarily housed in the ruined Abbey.

The return trip on the ferry was a rough ride.  As we docked in South Queensferry it began to rain.  Not just rain, but a downpour.  

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