Sunday, 14 June 2015

North Queensferry / Carlingnose Reserve

The Forth Rail (and road) bridge at North Queensferry, as seen from Carlingnose Reserve.

North Queensferry is probably best known for their stunning views of the Forth Rail Bridge, and possibly for the Deep Sea World aquarium (if you haven't been, it's VERY cool!) However, the Scottish Wildlife Trust also run a lovely little reserve at Carlingnose Point with views looking west over the Firth of Forth.  ... If you can find it that is!

North Queensferry (link to map)

We parked at a car park underneath the rail bridge, found a sign showing that we were not only in the right place, but a mere stone's throw away from the reserve. It then took us about an hour of wandering the town and scrambling unnecessarily over the boulder shore before we admitted defeat, went back to town and managed to find the path leading to it.

There was a lot of really interesting dried out pieces of driftwood along the shore.

Top tip: if you ever arrive looking for the reserve yourself, there are no signs in the town, but you'll find it if you follow the signs for the Fife Coastal Path and head away from the town (or away from the grey road bridge if that's easier).

Look for the Fife Coastal Path and follow it west. There are no signs for the Carlingnose Point Reserve in town that I could find. 

The reserve itself is in place to protect locally rare populations of wildflowers and plants, and the dense scrub provides a nice habitat for smaller birds as well but it's also a nice viewpoint to look for seabirds on the shore. We visited in May and only saw a couple of eider ducks, but it was a really sunny day and it's possible that the birds had all finished foraging early in the morning and headed away to roost by the time we arrived.

The reserve was small and pretty quiet on the day we visited, but the vast fields of gorse were stunning!

There's an old ruined pier just offshore that had a sleeping gull on it, but the wildlife was keeping fairly quiet on the day we visited.

An old ruined pier lies just offshore off the reserve.

Sunny afternoons are perfect for napping, no matter what species you are!

The reserve itself is pretty small, but if you follow the Fife Coastal Path, you'll be led down to a big sandy bay where you get some lovely views over the Firth of Forth.

Following the coastal path brings you to this beach which was covered in oyster shells.
A group of cormorants were out enjoying the sun on the edge of the shore too.

The beach was also covered in oyster shells, which is pretty unusual and the first time I can remember seeing any - especially in such large numbers!

Shells from what I think might be native oysters (Ostrea edulis). I included a 10 pence coin for scale, which has a diameter of roughly 25 mm.  

I suspect they're possibly native oysters (Ostrea edulis), but I'm not an expert on these animals. If anyone knows what these are, it'd be really interesting to know.

North Queensferry and the road and rail bridges over the Firth of Forth.

Back in the town, you will of course be treated to some stunning views of the road and rail bridges, but the town itself is beautiful and quite typical of a coastal Fife town so it's well worth saving a little time to look around the town and its harbour before you leave. It's sometimes also possible to see dolphins in the tidal races underneath the rail bridge, so they're worth looking out for too!

The new road bridge being constructed. 

This year (2015), they're also in the process of building a new bridge over the river and it's pretty cool just to see the scale of the engineering works that are happening just now.