Exploring the Estuary


If you are interested in sailing, the Forth is the perfect sailing area as it is full of sights to explore. There are plenty of local sailing clubs along the river, at places like Limekilns, Dalgety Bay, Burntisland, Granton, etc. If you don’t have your own boat there are companies like Edinburgh Boat Charters who offer charters to help you learn to sail or to simply build up your miles.

In sailing the Forth you can explore the many islands, beaches and harbours that make up this sailing heaven. You will also enjoy the unique view of the Edinburgh skyline seen from the river, and experience the fantastic feeling of sailing underneath the Forth Rail Bridge, particularly if there is a train going overhead!

The Forth is an extremely tidal river so always make sure to check the height of tide before venturing in or out of the harbours as many of them dry out at low tide. See our “Ports and Harbours” page for a list of all the ports you can visit on the Forth Estuary.


Route 76 is a 134 mile route that runs from Dunbar to Kirkcaldy and is ideal for exploring the Forth Estuary. You can cycle the whole lot or tackle it in various stages to see all the different sights. The best section for exploring the Forth Estuary leaves Edinburgh and takes you into the park lands of the Dalmeny Estate, before routing through South Queensferry and under the Forth Bridge. This is a stunning part to the cycle route as it takes you along the River Forth itself, past Hopetoun House and Blackness Castle, all the way to Stirling. The route becomes more urban as it takes you through Stirling, Alloa and Kincardine. From here the route becomes coastal again, taking you through the historic town of Culross, before reaching Rosyth and the Forth Bridges. The final stretch hugs the coast, taking you through the picturesque villages of Dalgety Bay, Aberdour, Burntisland and Kinghorn. Finally you reach Kirkcaldy where the route ends on the esplanade.

Don’t forget that you can also cycle across the Forth Road Bridge, the only one of the Forth Bridges that cyclists do have access to. The 1.5 mile long walkway provides astounding views out over the Firth of Forth, especially of the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Rail Bridge. If you wish to do a shorter version of National Route 76 you can use the Forth Road Bridge to quickly get between the Lothians and Fife.


The Blackness Castle Walk is a 4 mile walk from Bo’ness to Blackness Castle which follows the course of the River Forth, taking you through woodland before bringing you down to the shoreline path near Blackness Castle. Here you will have fantastic views of the Forth Bridges and across to Fife. You can then retrace your steps back to the start of the walk in Bo’ness.

The famous John Muir Way, which stretches all the way from Helensburgh in the West to Dunbar on the East Coast, is a total distance of 134 miles. You can choose which areas to walk, or tackle the whole lot in 9-11 days. It takes in 6 country parks, 2 canals, 5 castles, 4 nature reserves, and the Firth of Forth. The best part of this route to explore the Forth Estuary is section 6, Linlithgow to South Queensferry. This part is 14 miles long and will take roughly 7 hours to walk.

The Fife Coastal Path is a 117 mile coastal walk which stretches from Kincardine on the Firth of Forth to Newburgh on the Firth of Tay, taking in former coal mining towns of central Fife, small fishing villages of the East Neuk of Fife, stunning beaches and wildlife reserves. There are varying levels of difficulty in the paths so please check out your desired route before attempting it.

Don’t forget that you can also walk across the Forth Road Bridge, the only one of the Forth Bridges that pedestrians do have access to. The 1.5 mile long walkway provides astounding views out over the Firth of Forth, especially of the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Rail Bridge.


There are several exciting wrecks in the Firth of Forth that you can dive to. HMS Campania was a Cunard Line cruise ship which was requisitioned in 1914 for the war effort. In 1918 she was transferred to the Forth where she met her demise due to an unfortunate accident, 6 days before the Armistice. HMS Saucy is another such wreck: she played a vital part during both World Wars by bringing supplies over from the Atlantic. She was sunk on 4 September 1940 after hitting a German mine. There are other ship wrecks in the Forth, including, Royal Archer, Boy Andrew and the Salvestria.

In addition to ship wrecks there is the wreck of a Grumman Avenger, which was an American torpedo bomber. It is still in amazing condition and is covered in marine life, making it the perfect dive site.

There are also some fascinating dive sites made from natural phenomenons in the Forth. One such is the Vows and Vulcan which consists of two parallel reefs which are covered in soft corals; as well as hiding many lobsters, crab and fish in their many nooks and crannies. One of the best dive sites on the East Coast of Scotland is the Blae Rock, as it has a large variety of soft corals.


It is possible to fly around the estuary in a single engine plane from a local airfield. Seeing the Firth of Forth from the sky is an amazing experience as you get to see the bridges and islands like never before.


Exploring the Firth of Forth by kayak is a great way to get around and explore the estuary. The best harbours to explore from are Port Edgar Marina, Aberdour and North Berwick as they provide excellent access to extremely picturesque areas of the river. You can choose to hug the shoreline, or strike out across the estuary to investigate the inner islands of the Forth.

From North Berwick you can undergo a journey out to Fidra or the famous Bass Rock. En route you can pass underneath the historic Tantallon Castle from where it perches on a cliff on the coast. You are likely to spot a lot of wildlife in this area of the Forth, including gannets, puffins, seals and porpoises.

At Aberdour you can leave from the beautiful Silversands beach and head out into the Forth. Directly across from the quaint village of Aberdour is Inchcolm Island with its famous twelth century abbey.

From Port Edgar Marina you are able to kayak either up river to Blackness Castle or down river under the bridges and to the inner islands of the Forth.

Always be careful of bigger vessels in the river, especially if you kayaking across the main channel.