In the middle of the Firth of Forth is Inchcolm Island, a small, pretty, idyllic island home to a medieval abbey, tunnels dating back to the First World War, and lots and lots of sea gulls. It’s also a very relaxing place to spend a sunny afternoon.
I caught the ferry to the island from South Queensferry in the shadow of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. It took around 40 minutes to reach the island, and despite it being a warm, sunny day, it was chilly and windy out on the firth. Nevertheless, it was a great place for a spot of wildlife watching. Seals could be seen bobbing in the firth and lounging on rocks from the boat, while there were numerous sea birds, including a pair of cute puffins, their orange beaks clearly visible, flying across the water.
On coming into land at Inchcolm, we passed a humorous small rocky outcrop, home to a band of garden gnomes dubbed InchGnome. Hopping off the boat, the first thing to grab my attention was a couple of small, picturesque beaches and beyond that, the medieval abbey, which dominates the island.
The abbey was founded in the 12th century by King David I of Scotland in honour of his late brother King Alexander I who had been shipwrecked on Inchcolm, and having been given shelter by a hermit who lived on the island, vowed to build a priory there. Much of the stone abbey is still standing and while it’s small, there are many nooks and crannies to explore. I had a great time going up and down different flights of stairs, through little passageways and doors, discovering all the abbey had to offer.
Technically there’s a path around the island, but when I went in May, the island’s many, many sea gulls (I have never seen so many in my life) were breeding and they’d nested all over the island and often right beside the path. The sea gulls were very aggressive towards anyone who tried to follow the path past their nests and after watching a number of people attempt to walk down the path, only to be chased away by the sea gulls, we decided it was safer to spend the afternoon chilling in the sunshine as opposed to risking the wrath of the gulls.
Luckily, it was a super warm day and the peaceful island was the perfect place to bask in the sun and relax. There’s a small exhibition on the island, which tells you a bit about its history, as well as a shop. Plus you can walk up the hill behind the shop to the old wartime tunnels. While I made it through the tunnels, I didn’t get much further because again, there were lots of angsty, nesting sea gulls everywhere.
Sea gulls aside, I spent a lovely, relaxing day on Inchcolm Island and would definitely go again if I were in the Edinburgh area.
Inchcolm Island, Burntisland KY3 0UA
Open 9.30am-5.30pm (1 Apr-31 Oct), closed (1 Nov-31 Mar)
Adults £5.50, Children £3.30, Concessions £4.40