Back in June of this year I read about a unique event which was organised by the Scottish Government to allow 50,000 people to walk over the New Queensferry Crossing above the Firth off Forth. The event was to take place on the 2 – 3rd September. The selection of the 50,000 people to make the walk was to be by a ballot and available to anyone. I entered the ballot as a group leader, the other person in my being my daughter Nicola. I had something like 14 days to wait until the ballot ended and the draw made. I did not hold out too much hope of being selected.
On the 6th July I was told that my entry was successful and that I had 48 hours to confirm my booking. I learned that 226,000 people had entered the ballot and that 5000+ people with postcodes outside of Scotland had been successful together with 400+ from abroad. My allocated date to make the walk was at 16:20 on 2nd September, with Edinburgh Park as my travel hub.
In August I received my official invitation as well as our security ID tags. I started to plan the journey with my daughter. We decided to make a day of it by driving up to Edinburgh and visiting the Zoo in the morning. In particular we wanted to see the Giant Panda’s. It had been some 43 years since I last visited Edinburgh Zoo.
We set off from Shropshire at 05:00 and arrived at the Zoo at 9:45, it was a beautiful late summer morning and the Zoo was not busy. The Zoo was brilliant, particularly with the conservation work being done. We managed to get a great view of the male Panda Yang Guang in his enclosure. Tian Tian the female Panda was not available as the news of her recent pregnancy had keepers especially careful in keeping her undisturbed.
We left the Zoo for Edinburgh Park and thought we may have a few hours to kill as we were very early before our allotted slot. We were pleasantly surprised therefore to see that a continuous and rolling procession of people were processed on arrival. After clearing the security check we just carried onto the bus stops where buses where coming and going on a continual basis. We had a 20 minute drive to the south side of the bridge. The Police and road transport employees where everywhere, together with the Event Ambassadors – volunteers who were very welcoming.
We got off the bus and joined the snaking trail of people already walking the bridge. We could see on the opposite carriageway a similar train of people walking and thought at first that we would have to walk back over the bridge. This was not the case as other walkers travelling from other Travel Hubs were walking the bridge North to South.
It was a surreal experience walking over the bridge, even though I have walked over other motorway bridges this was special. The Bridge up close is just as beautiful as it is from a distance. The sweeping hyperbola of the crossing wire rope from the three towers is perfectly smooth. I thought that it would be very windy on the bridge, however, the weather together with the 3.5 metre glass wind shielding meant there was just a gentle breeze blowing. Although you cannot see clearly through the windshield the organisers had clearly removed the slats at head height to allow views up and down the Firth of Forth.
As we passed the towers, we could see the equipment and plant to enable the brilliant light show that had lit up the bridge in a public display a few days before. As we passed over the gentle curve of the bridge arch we seemed to quickly arrive at our finish point and jump on one of the waiting buses. By 16:00 we were back at Edinburgh Park.
This really was a proud day for Scotland and equally for the United Kingdom as a whole. This was a unique, spectacular and innovative way of celebrating an engineering achievement for its design and beauty. The organisation was truly amazing. The whole event, from the communication, the signage, the security and to the thousands of people on the ground, particularly the Event Ambassadors – A big Well Done!
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here: