Yesterday I took it upon myself to have a dummy run at my walk to North Queensferry. This involves walking across the Forth Road Bridge – roughly a mile and a half long suspension bridge that crosses the Firth of Forth – from South Queensferry…on the south side of the river to North Qu….
I’d had a bit of a panic when I found that google maps and the handy-dandy map thing that comes with the i-phone both said that I couldn’t walk across the bridge – and that I’d have to walk an extra 40 miles to get across the river.
Even though I’d seen many people walk across the bridge, the spectre of doubt began to haunt me. I was soon to find a number of happy walking stories on the interweb that involved said crossing…
So anyway, I began my journey meandering through the streets of Edinburgh, regretting the third cup of tea I’d had that morning. No matter, I thought, I know of a public lavatorium in Corstorphine (not a drug – actually an area of Edinburgh). I found the pressure rising as the expectation of the er… release came closer.
Imagine my dismay when I found that the convenience had inconveniently been removed. It had been replaced by an off-license (insert your own ‘piss-up and brewery’ joke here).
I could have popped into any number of supermarkets/ burger restaurants sporting golden arches – but, somewhat inexplicably in retrospect, I decided that this would constitute cheating.
It’s ok – I’m mental.
The first few miles out of Edinburgh were slightly unpleasant as I waddled in the hope of finding some secluded tree – you’d think the countryside would be full of them…
Enough of that – suffice is it to say – the countryside is full of them. I followed the instructions of a jolly chap who’d thoroughly enjoyed his walk across the bridge – they went something like – walk along the road until you see some steps – when you get to the top of these you’ll see a cycle path that leads you up to bridge level.
I went up the steps – straight into a building site – where I was wolf-whistled by a chap as he dangled off the underside of the bridge. I obliged by raising my kilt somewhat provocatively to which he and his mates responded by demanding more.
Definitely not sexist – they would clearly sexually harass anyone.
I was given directions around the construction encampment by one of their colleagues and went on my way with the whistles ringing in my ears.
I’ve driven across the Forth Road Bridge approximately 12 billion times (give or take) but never had I set foot on it.
One is immediately put at one’s ease by a sign saying “Distressed – phone the Samaritans on….” I was struck that I could feel the movement of the traffic through my feet…larger traffic through my knees…and those really big lorries through my…
There are gaps in the bridge! Sure, they’re only about a centimetre wide – apparently they allow for the bridge to expand and contract – that’s all well and good – but you can see the sea (about 100 feet down) through them.
The other thing that didn’t put me at my ease was the fence along the side. It’s about 5 feet high. I feel it could benefit from being at least another 18 feet taller – just in case my slight frame was lifted by an errant gust of wind, or if I was bounced by a jogger, or ricocheted off a cyclist. While I’m at it – they have ‘person’ hatches that are rectangle.
So what? You don’t care, do you? Well I wouldn’t have had I not seen a childrens’ programme that explained the reason why manhole covers were round – they are round so it’s impossible for them to fall through the hole they’re covering. You haven’t got the same certainty with your rectangle cover. I chose not to walk on them.
I walked past a number of folk on the bridge. None of us were going slower than the fastest walk I’d ever done plus 50%. We all had fixed grins that said – ‘Isn’t this a jolly thing we’re doing…aren’t the views just…aaaarrrgghh’
I was in such a state of anxiety by the time I’d almost crossed the bridge that, when I heard a compressed air pipe that had come unstuck from something I convinced myself that the bridge was deflating.
I’m glad I’m brave and that I’ve agreed to comfort some friends as we walk across the bridge for real on the 6th of April.
Walk a mile in my shoes – feel the fear and do…something else (I bravely got the train back – that doesn’t wobble)