THE shortest ferry crossing in Scotland looks set to re-open – 11 years after a foot and mouth outbreak forced it to close.
The project would see passengers travel from Cramond to the Dalmeny Estate in Edinburgh, using a hand-operated ‘chain ferry’ service.
Re-introducing the ferry would take away the three-mile inland detour cyclists and walkers have to take around the River Almond.
A recent study showed that ten per cent of the 485,000 annual visitors to the island would use the 15-minute sea commute, should the plans go ahead.
City planners are to consider proposals submitted by Cramond and Barnton Community council from Covell Mathew Architects , this September.
The project has already secured £10,000 in lottery funding along with further funds from the local council-funded neighbourhood partnership for a visitor survey. However, an additional £243,000 will be needed to build the chain ferry device.
The service would be run by a boatsman transporting 12 passengers at a time charging an estimated fee of £1-1.50. The chain ferry itself is made with rafts attached to chains underneath the water.
Andrew Mather, chairman of the community council explained there has been significant support so far for the scheme from residents, Historic Scotland and the local boat club.
He said: “At the moment you see a lot of people arrive at the river and with no crossing tend to turn back. With such a detour we believe there will be interest, from people with bicycles in particular, who want to complete the full coastal route.
“The study we’ve done shows if we can get it off the ground it is viable. It’s just that initial set-up costs we need, although that will be difficult to secure. But we have made good progress because of the design, which is novel and will be of great interest to people.”
Up until 2001, a rowing boat service was provided for people wishing to cross the river to the island for a fare of 50p.
This service was suspended to prevent the spread of foot and mouth disease reaching the Dalmeny Estate. However, it was discovered after the closure that the jetty was in such poor condition that they would not be able to reopen.
The old rowing boat service will be replaced by a new jetty and raft with a lift that will lower passengers down to water level.
Stratford-upon-Avon is thought to have the only other chain ferry in the UK. Plans for a fixed bridge to be constructed in 2008 were disposed of because it would have prevented boats accessing the river Almond.
Iain Eason, a Covell Matthews architect who came up with the ferry idea said: “We’ve come up with the concept of a chain ferry and lift platform which will believe fulfil its purpose, will help businesses in Cramond, and will itself be a great interest as a structure.”