THE Insider Guides take me the length and breadth of our country to towns, villages and neighbourhoods that are interesting – and beautiful - in different ways.

I’m often asked for my favourite view in Scotland, which is a bit like asking someone to choose their favourite child. How do you pick between the majesty of Luskentyre beach on Harris, and the beloved urban sprawl of my home city, Glasgow, from the Necropolis? The truth is, you can’t.

But if I had to name my top five views, this week's destination would be in there. Indeed, it’s genuinely hard to think of a more iconic and impressive Scottish sight than the three mighty Forth bridges from the Queensferry shore.

The bridges completely dominate the town: every corner you turn, every brae you climb, offers a different vista, especially as the seasons, light and weather conditions change.

Queensferry itself, meanwhile, is as impressive as its crossings, a historic and beautifully-preserved settlement that has played a fascinating role in Scottish history for a thousand years. It is also home to some excellent cafes, restaurants and shops. Talk about having it all.

Historic Highlights

Sometimes known as South Queensferry – to differentiate it from its northern counterpart on the Fife shore opposite – or just “The Ferry”, it was named for Queen Margaret (St Margaret of Scotland), who married Malcolm III in 1070 and established a church in Dunfermline that became a place of pilgrimage. The Queen also organised the ferry to sail people across the Forth, originally operated by monks, a commercial passenger route that survived until 1964.

The town grew up as an important trading and fishing port in its own right, as the abundance of historic buildings highlights. The fifteenth-century Priory Church of St Mary remains the oldest working Carmelite church in the UK. The Black Castle house on the High Street dates back to 1626. Not long after, one of its maids was burned at the stake for witchcraft.

Construction began on the Forth Bridge in 1879, following a design by Thomas Bouch. Building came to a screeching halt, however, when his other major design, the Tay Bridge, collapsed. Engineers Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker stepped in and the bridge opened in 1890. The Forth Road Bridge, meanwhile, opened in 1964, ending 900 years of ferry traffic between the two coasts. The trio of bridges was completed in 2017, with the Queensferry Crossing.

Famous Queensferry residents include Pretenders legend Chrissie Hynde, who lived in the town in the 1980s with then-husband Jim Kerr of Simple Minds. Composer and musician Anna Meredith grew up in the town, as did snooker champion Stephen Hendry and Scotland international Callum Paterson. It is also known for its prominent role in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped. The Hawes Inn, which features in the book, is still a bustling pub, restaurant and hotel.

Things to do

On arrival, whether by car or train at Dalmeny Station, you can’t help but start soaking up those bridge views. The bustling harbour and Port Edgar Marina, which sits between the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing, is as good a place as any to admire the surroundings and take pictures.

A pier to pier stroll from Port Edgar, along the High Street, with its unusual stepped section, to the more easterly pier from which you can sail to the island of Inchcolm (more of which later), takes in attractions including the Black Castle, Tolbooth and Hawes Inn. If you’d rather do a guided walk, Forth Bridges Tours offers an illuminating and fun 1hr 40 jaunt through the town which ends at the must-visit Queensferry Museum, which showcases the town’s story with fascinating exhibits covering social, folk and engineering history.

You can, of course, get spectacular views of the bridges by walking across one of them. The Forth Road Bridge is open to walkers and cyclists – though look out for those crosswinds. Steve Lewis, meanwhile, recommends the picturesque coastal walk to Cramond, through the Dalmeny Estate.

The Ferry Fair takes place each summer, which includes the procession of the Burry Man, a 300-year-old tradition where a local person is covered in burrs – from the burdock plant – and walked through the town. A more recent tradition is the Loony Dook on New Year’s Day, where hardy souls from all over the world brave the bracing waters of the Forth.

Where to eat

Margaret Robertson visits her son in the town regularly. “We do lots of babysitting and love to take a wander and get a bite to eat,” she says. “The Little Parlour, opposite the museum, has ice cream to die for. And at £8.50, the pensioners’ fish and chips at Harry Ramsden on the seafront is outstanding value.”

Also on the High Street, the Little Bakery serves delicious cakes, waffles and scones. The blow-out full afternoon tea is well worth the calories. The Picnic Coffee Shop on Mid Terrace serves excellent sandwiches and great coffee.

For something more substantial, The Rail Bridge Bistro on Newhalls Road has a lovely menu of Scottish favourites (the cullen skink and steak pie are both very tasty) and plenty of outdoor seating from which to enjoy the views.

Marie Lennon adds: “There are so many great places to eat lunch or dinner in The Ferry – it’s tough to choose a favourite. If I had to, I’d go for The Boathouse. The smoked haddock is mouth-watering, as the mac ‘n’ cheese.”

Charles Fletcher, meanwhile, describes Queen's Spice on the High Street as the “greatest Asian restaurant in the whole world.”

Another local favourite is The Orocco Pier Restaurant, which serves an elegant modern menu at a very reasonable prices - the two-course lunch or pre-theatre dinner is £12.95.

Where to shop

The streets and lanes of Queensferry have an abundance of lovely wee shops. For gifts and accessories, Allium, Maisies and the Harbour Lane Studio are all worth a visit. Sea Kist antiques is a veritable treasure trove. Joyce Paton boutique has the sort of eye-catching outfits that you won't find in the big high street stores.

Where to stay

Historic: The aforementioned Hawes Inn is literally straight from the pages of a Stevenson novel. Many of the rooms have a sea view and the food is great. From £94 a night.

Cosy: A former gamekeeper’s cottage, Parkhead House offers elegant rooms, tasty breakfasts and the sort of service money can’t buy. Rooms from £100.

Chic: The Queens boasts a beautifully styled contemporary interior and a central location. Rooms from £100.

What to do nearby

A boat trip from Queensferry to Inchcolm – “Columba’s island” – is a magical experience. Not only do you get the most wonderful up-close views of the Forth Bridge as you sail, but one of Scotland’s most beautiful and complete medieval abbeys awaits your arrival. The island, which is mentioned in Macbeth, was fortified during both world wars and is now home to a wide array of wildlife and seabirds. You can easily spend a whole day there.

Pop over the Queensferry Crossing (or walk or cycle the Forth Road Bridge if you’re feeling energetic) to neighbouring North Queensferry. Its pretty pier and harbour offer a different, but equally stunning, view of the bridges. And Rankin's Cafe is always worth a visit.

In the coming weeks I'll be visiting Gourock, Leven and Dunvegan. Send your hints and tips to: