PLANS for what is believed to be the shortest ferry trip in the UK taking passengers across the River Almond have been recommended for approval by city planners.
The historical boat link which once connected Cramond with the Dalmeny Estate in Edinburgh is set to make a return with work likely to begin next summer.
A full-time boatsman will use a chain ferry to transport up to 12 people at a time across the stretch of water.
Ambitious plans submitted to the local authority by Cramond Community Council also feature lifts on both banks allowing passengers to be lowered to water level – a new jetty and pontoons will also be installed.
The crossing will allow walkers and cyclists to avoid a three-mile trek to the nearest bridge and replaces an old rowing boat which took sightseers across the river for more than a century until it was axed during the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001.
Cramond and Barnton Community Council has submitted the plans which are set to be rubber-stamped by councillors tomorrow.
The group has secured £10,000 in Lottery funding and further funds from the local council-funded neighbourhood partnership for a visitor survey which found more than 15 per cent of the 485,000 annual visitors to the area said they would use the 15-minute service across the River Almond if it was reinstated. However, the group will still need to raise £300,000 to build the chain ferry device.
It is understood the community council’s plan is to set up a trust company involving the city council which owns the western bank and Lord Rosebery, who owns the east.
Andrew Mather, chairman of the community council, said there has been major support from the local community and Historic Scotland.
He said: “Receiving the backing of city planners is a significant hurdle to have cleared and this will help us greatly in attracting further funding.
“At present walkers and cyclists face a long walk or cycle to get to Queensferry from Cramond, this will see them across in under 15 minutes.
“This will be the shortest ferry crossing in Britain and as such will do a lot to increase the attraction of Cramond. There is a coastal route all the way from Silverknowes but at the moment you see a lot of people arrive at the river and with no crossing to Queensferry they tend to turn back.”
The fee for each crossing is expected to be set at between £1 and £1.50.
The city council report, which appears before the development and management sub-committee, states: “It has the potential to improve pedestrian and cycle accessibility along the city’s waterfront as part of the wider coastal path network.”
Once installed the ferry will be manually operated by a boatsman cranking a handle and guided across the river by a series of chains and cables which are linked to both shores.
Until 2001 those trekking along the waterfront could take a rowing boat operated by the Dalmeny Estate, owned by Lord Rosebery, for 50p. However, the service was suspended to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease to the estate.
Edinburgh West MSP Colin Keir said: “This proposal has been talked about for a number of years and is widely supported in the community.
“I’m sure it would easily become a tourist attraction in itself drawing more people to the area as well as linking to Queensferry.”