FIRST there was one, then two, and soon there will be three. The bridges at South and North Queensferry are as an iconic symbol of Scotland as you could hope for.
I spent virtually my entire time at photography college trying to get a photo of the Forth Bridge that I was happy with. One morning my classmate walked in with what I still consider is the best photo I have seen of the bridge (Google Sinclair Mackenzie, Forth Bridge and make your own mind up). I never photographed it again after that.
So I decided on the drive to South Queensferry that I would try and photograph as much of the two towns as I could without including the bridge. This folly of judgement lasted barely seconds after I pulled up outside the historic Hawes Inn. It is just impossible not be completely overawed by the bridge. Even after many many visits it is, quite simply, breathtaking.
The two bridges currently crossing the Forth at this point dominate the skyline. There is the world famous cantilever structure of the Forth Bridge to the east, and the sweeping, graceful geometry of the road bridge to the west. A new bridge, The Queensferry Crossing, is due to be completed just upstream of the current road bridge next year.
South Queensferry has long been a favourite place of mine. It has undeniable charm and is a mecca for the tourists who come to view the bridge and take the boat tours out on the river, and to the island of Inchcolm which lies a mile or two downstream. North Queensferry is a quieter place. Calmer and smaller than it’s more popular twin across the river it is still nonetheless a beautiful place and, for me, offers the best view of the bridge.
To stand beneath the 19th century genius of the Forth Bridge, as the trains trundle by hundreds of feet above is a wonderful experience. How many trains have passed over this bridge, and how many children once thought that the trains drove over the bumps? Although pennies are no longer thrown out of train windows for luck as they cross the bridge, it feels incredibly lucky that such a structure, such a triumph of engineering, has not only survived unscathed two world wars (the first German bombing raid of World War II took place only a couple of miles away at Rosyth), but has been cherished by generations of visitors, and this seems set to continue for many years to come.
How could I ever have dreamed of ignoring it?
• Alan McCredie began the ‘100 weeks of Scotland’ website in October last year, and it will conclude in Autumn 2014. McCredie’s goal is to chronicle two years of Scottish life in the run-up to the independence referendum.
Alan says ‘one hundred weeks...’ is intended to show all sides of the country over the next two years. On the site, he says: “Whatever the result of the vote Scotland will be a different country afterward. These images will show a snapshot of the country in the run up to the referendum.
“The photos will be of all aspects of Scottish culture - politics, art, social issues, sport and anything else that catches the eye.”
Follow the project at www.100weeksofscotland.com. You can also follow Alan on Twitter @alanmccredie.