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Crossing into history

Press Release   •   Aug 28, 2017 10:01 BST

The Firth of Forth could rival San Francisco, London and Sydney by becoming a leading destination for bridge tourism, according to VisitScotland.

The national tourism organisation believes the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing, which stands alongside the Forth Road Bridge and iconic Forth Bridge, could see the area emulate the success of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Tower Bridge in London - all of which regularly attract millions of visitors every year.

This week, Scotland enters the history books as the only place in the world to boast three bridges spanning three centuries in one stunning location.

As the world’s longest three-tower cable stayed bridge, the Queensferry Crossing is a feat of modern engineering. It will make it easier for local, national and international visitors to travel across the east of the country, to discover attractions such as Dunfermline Abbey, Hopetoun House, Blackness Castle, Aberdour Castle, Deep Sea World and Inchcolm Abbey.

The crossing will open to traffic on 30 August and will be officially opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on 4 September.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Queensferry Crossing is about to join its two neighbours in the ranks as one of the world’s most iconic bridges, a national ‘must see’ for visitors to Scotland.

“The people of Scotland will take this new bridge to their hearts and we invite the world to join in celebrating its opening as a celebration of the magnificent feats of innovation, engineering and construction, but also the history and heritage of the three bridges and surrounding areas.

“By successfully attracting people to the area, we are working with other bodies to ensure that local communities, businesses and attractions are able to capitalise on this increased level of interest to their benefit.”

Scotland is home to an impressive range of bridges, many of which were designed by Scots or built by Scottish construction companies.

A vote on the national tourism organisation’s community pages is currently trying to find the nation’s favourite Scottish bridge. The iconic Forth Bridge has emerged as an early favourite, closely followed by the Glenfinnan Viaduct, whose starring role in the Harry Potter films helped catapulted it to stardom.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: “Bridges, such as the Queensferry Crossing, are a lasting reminder of a nation’s engineering expertise and never fail to attract global interest. This impressive structure, which rather fittingly opens during the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, marks Scotland’s place in history as the only destination in the world to boast such a remarkable trilogy. This is undoubtedly a golden opportunity for tourism and the chance for Scotland to become a global destination for bridge tourism.”

From their beauty, grandeur or breath taking engineering prowess, Scotland’s bridges each have their own story to tell. Some of Scotland’s most recognisable structures include:

Forth Bridge

It now enjoys the same prestigious status as the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China, having earned its UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2015. Designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, the Forth Bridge remains an important symbol of Britain’s transport heritage and Scotland’s engineering pedigree. Its distinctive style makes it one of the most recognisable structures in the world, inspiring artists, photographers and filmmakers. Last year it was also chosen as Scotland’s greatest manmade wonder.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

A favourite with Harry Potter fans having starred in two of the blockbuster movies, the impressive Glenfinnan Viaduct carries the railway 100ft above the River Finnan. When it was completed in 1901 it was the longest mass concrete viaduct in Britain and was built by rail and road engineer Sir Robert McAlpine.The Jacobite Steam train, which doubled as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies, runs from Fort William to Mallaig. Must-see attraction in the area include the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre which commemorates the Jacobite clansmen who fought and gave their lives in support of Charles Edward Stuart, otherwise known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Brig o’Doon

This 15th century cobbled bridge in Alloway is famed for its appearance in poetry. The Brig o’Doon saved Tam o’Shanter in Robert Burns’ poem of the same name. The witches from Alloway Auld Kirk were pursuing Tam when he crossed the bridge on horseback but were unable to cross the water, and only managed to rip off the poor horse’s tail. Originally, the old bridge was supposed to be demolished but this decision was overruled by Alloway’s increasing role as a gateway for literary tourists, attracted to the area by Robert Burns’ work.

Clyde Arc

Best known as the ‘Squinty Bridge’ due to its twisted arch, the Clyde Arc was designed by the Halcrow Group and built by Kilsyth-based civil engineering company, Edmund Nuttall. Its construction was part of a huge regeneration project on the Clyde Waterfront. The Clyde Arc is just one of 21 bridges that span the River Clyde, with the earliest bridges dating from the 1850s. They are diverse in style and each plays a part in telling the story of how Glasgow formed to be the city it is today.

Clachan Bridge

Built in 1792, Clachan Bridge crosses the Clachan Sound, but is known by the much grander title of ‘The Bridge Over the Atlantic’ because the sound opens directly into the Atlantic Ocean. It was designed by John Stevenson, whose family founded Oban, and the plans were revised by Robert Mylne. In the early summer, the rare Fairy Foxglove covers the bridge in a gentle purple haze.

Carrbridge Packhorse Bridge

Celebrating its 300 anniversary this year, the Carrbridge Packhorse Bridge is one of the most iconic visitor attractions in the Cairngorms. Originally built to allow funeral processions to gain access to Duthil Church, the crossing is often nicknamed ‘coffin bridge’. It was funded by the Brigadier-General Alexander Grant of Grant who paid mason John Niccelsone to create what is the oldest known stone bridge in the Highlands. All that remains of the bridge is a single span, arcing high into the air across the swiftly rushing river below.

The Kylesku Bridge

Replacing a long running boat service, Kylesku Bridge was completed in 1984 and is one continuous concrete curve that crosses Loch a’Chairn Bhain. The previous ferry services had proved unpredictable, especially in bad weather, and the award-winning bridge helped travellers to avoid a 100 mile route on land. The bridge is located in the North West Highlands Geopark on the North Coast 500 driving route.

Tay Road Bridge, Dundee

One of the longest road bridges in Europe, the Tay Road Bridge connects the city of Dundee with Fife and spans 1.4 miles.It was designed by Glasgow-based William A. Fairhurst and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was in the first car to cross the bridgeon the day it officially opened in August 1966. Unusually, the pedestrian pathway runs through the middle of the two lines of traffic and is raised above them.

Leaderfoot Viaduct,

This elegant red sandstone viaduct opened in 1865 and was created by Charles Jopp and Wylie & Peddie. Its 19 red sandstone arches carried the Berwickshire Railway over the River Tweed and although there was flooding damage to the line in 1948, the Leaderfoot Viaduct was in use until 1965. You can take an 8.5 mile circular walk which includes the viaduct, as well as Melrose, Newstead, Gattonside, Earlston.

Swilcan Bridge

Also known as Golfer’s Bridge, this crossing might be small in size, but it’s an iconic part of golfing history and a mecca for golf fans. This stone footbridge crosses over Swilcan Burn, which meanders across the 1st and 18th fairways of the Old Course in St Andrews. It has witnessed 29 Open Championships in its time and been privy to some of the finest moments in golfing history.

To cast your vote for your favourite Scottish bridge visit:

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
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  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
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  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017