‘THERE is nothing quite like our Forth bridges,” beams South Queensferry resident Stewart Norton as he sweeps his arm across a skyline dominated by the majestic trio. He’s right – nowhere I’ve seen in the world has three architecturally significant bridges from three successive centuries in such close proximity. And with the new Forth Bridges Trail appreciating the bridges and the stories that swirl around each bank has never been easier.

The Forth Bridges are set in a spectacular spot where the mighty Forth narrows and deepens with a tumult of wild currents. These are waters once sailed by the Vikings; the Romans too. Then later on the area became pivotal during World War One when the British Navy held sway and then again in World War Two when the first air raid of the Battle of Britain in World War Two took place here.

The new Forth Bridges Trail only covers around five miles on both banks of this famous estuary and the beauty of it is that you can just join at any point, then do as much as you want. You can explore it on foot, on a bike, or bring the train into the mix. Information boards at each stop bring the history and culture of the area alive and let you know where the stop before and after is.

The National:

To really make the most of the Forth Bridges Trail I recommend starting it on the southern shores, walking across the Forth Bridges and then catching the train back over at the end across the Forth Bridge, so you get to cross two of the bridges. If you come to the area by car you could even slip over the Queensferry Crossing to complete the trio.

So, starting at Dalmeny Station in South Queensferry – which is just Queensferry, or “The Ferry”, to the locals – you learn how the bridges are pivotal to the area and link to North Queensferry. Descend the “Jacob’s Ladder” staircase and you come to the 17th century coaching inn, the Hawes Inn, so beloved of writer Robert Louis Stevenson that he set a chapter of his novel Kidnapped here. This is stop two and then we’re off to Seal’s Craig to learn amongst other things about “Ghostly hounds” and “A pint on Sundays”.

Continuing west along the High Street the next stop delves deep into South Queensferry’s strong sense of community as we learn about the legendary Burry Man and touch on a movie with a famous scene set here – you’ll have to come to learn which one! At the Bellstane stop at the end of the High Street you learn about the football team that had its roots here and went on to play in the Scottish Cup.

We hit the shore now at the old harbour, which was once alive with the bustle of herring boats. Learn about this late 19th century haven as you wander by the boats and appreciate the epic views of the Forth Bridges. The next stop is close by at The Binks. This is pivotal to the town as it takes its name from the “Queen’s Ferry” that Queen Margaret first instigated to spirit pilgrims across the Forth.

The stop furthest west lies along the coast at Port Edgar and it’s a stunner. The view of the bridges here is really different, and no less spectacular. Check out the information board and then enjoy lunch or a drink in swish Scotts, or its more rustic neighbour, Down the Hatch. Another great spot for lunch with views is Orocco Pier back on the High Street.

We’re heading now up on to the Forth Road Bridge, which was the largest suspension bridge in the world when it opened back in 1964. There is a Forth Bridges Trail stop at both the South Tower and the North Tower. Don’t miss the viewpoint on the south side of the bridge too. The experience of crossing the bridge is a sublime one as sweeping views open up all around. Look out for wildlife too – I’ve spotted dolphins from up here.

There is a quartet of Forth Bridges Trail stops in North Queensferry. The Railway Pier ties into railway crossings across the Forth and gives you a totally different view to any you’ll have had so far. You’ll learn about the trains that used to run to Port Edgar, then have passengers ferried across here in the days before the Forth Bridge opened.

The Battery Road stop brings a sombre note as you check out the Briggers Memorial, dedicated to those who lost their lives building the Forth Bridge. This serious note continues at the War Memorial stop. The granite memorial commemorates the at least 28 local men who died in World War One, a sizeable chunk of the population then.

The last stop is the Railway Station. The beauty of this trail is that even if you’re local you constantly learn new things. I had no idea that when the Forth Bridge opened in 1890 there was no North Queensferry station. The locals were outraged they had to travel to Inverkeithing to get aboard and they made such a protest their station was impressively assembled in just three months!

To find out just what all the information boards say you’ll have to come and experience the Forth Bridges Trail for yourself. And I highly recommend you do to appreciate the stories that swirl around this trio of world-class testaments to Scottish creativity and engineering.