Photograph shows people walking over the Queensferry Crossing with the support tower and cables to the right.

The Queensferry Crossing Experience was an event held at the weekend to celebrate the opening of Scotland’s newest bridge. 50,000 people were given the opportunity to walk across the Queensferry Crossing and myself, my husband and one of our best pals just happened to be one of the lucky ones.

Entering The Queensferry Crossing Experience Ballot

Back in June, my husband Ross turned to me and our friend David and asked if we wanted to be entered into the Queensferry Crossing Experience ballot. “Sure,” I answered. After all, it would be pretty cool to take part in what was being dubbed a once in a lifetime opportunity. As the bridge has no pedestrian access no-one else will be able to walk it after the Queensferry Crossing Experience event finishes.

We were successful in the ballot and received our official invite in mid-August. I loved it! Inside the invite was a pop-up bridge, how cool! You can check it out over on my Instagram here. I don’t know why, but at this point, I got an idea in my head; I wanted to walk the bridge!

Considering Walking The Queensferry Crossing

I hadn’t used my wheelchair since my visit London in May of 2016 and the idea of it wasn’t thrilling me. We weren’t sure if I could take my scooter on the buses and we figured the wheelchair would be much easier. The problem in my mind surrounded the fact I can’t self-propel my wheelchair (I’m not physically able and the option isn’t there even if I was). I wanted to cross the bridge independently. So I convinced myself I could walk it and just pay for it majorly afterwards.

This was based on the fact that on good days I’ve been able to do a little bit more walking. However, I was forgetting that I’ve also very recently had a bad flare. Oh, I also conveniently forgot that I have only ever walked a third of the distance safely in one go (and not regularly I might add!). The bridge is 1.7 miles long!

Sometimes the denial is strong with this one! Luckily, those around me gently reminded me about my limitations, how much I would suffer (if I even managed to complete the walk) and the benefits of using my wheelchair. I came round to the idea and it was most definitely for the best!

My once in a lifetime opportunity to cross the Queensferry Crossing. Here, photograph shows the buses wait to take us to the bridge.

The Morning Of The Event

We got up early and headed to our allocated travel depot for just after 9 am. I have to say I was not thrilled with the early start as I struggle in the mornings. The sun shining helped though and once there, I started to feel quite excited about the event.

We parked the car in the multi-storey car park (I don’t have a blue badge) and made our way over to the short queue. I was immediately impressed by the event staff. I was greeted with a friendly welcome and informed of the best way to access the queue in my wheelchair.

The Queensferry Crossing Experience Was An Accessible Event

The event was accessible and the staff went out of their way to ensure that everyone had a good experience. They were very accommodating of individual needs and I noticed that they happily moved someone who had tinnitus away from one of the speakers to a quieter area. The only question asked was if the new area was quiet enough.

The speakers were playing music and event information and they were loud when you were up close to them. As we queued for our bus to take us to the bridge, we all commented that it almost felt as though we were in a queue at a theme park.

The queue for the bus did take a little bit of time. It turned out that the scanners at security (which scanned a bar code on the ID badge we were each given) weren’t playing ball. Had it not been for this I can imagine there wouldn’t have been much of a queue. Other than this small blip, the event was very well organised and everything went smoothly.

Photograph shows the view from the Queensferry Crossing of the Forth Road & Rail bridges

Three Bridges Now Span The Firth Of Forth

Boarding the bus was a straightforward process with no issues and, again, the staff were helpful and welcoming. By the point I boarded the bus, I was glad of my wheelchair. I would have been tired out before I even began from standing and waiting.

Once on the bridge, we were greeted with the impressive view of the Queensferry Crossing itself. Plus, a view of the other two bridges crossing the Firth of Forth; the Forth Road and Rail bridges. There are now three bridges spanning the same stretch of water.

The old Forth Road Bridge is to be re-opened and used as a public transport corridor. It can also be crossed by pedestrians and cyclists. The Queensferry Crossing will– come October– become a motorway for the remaining traffic.

Photograph shows a close-up of one of the supports with the cables spanning from either side.

Seeing The Queensferry Crossing Up Close

I know nothing about bridges but even I could see that it is an impressive feat of engineering. My husband is a civil engineer and met our friend David when he was studying engineering at university. So, the two of them were geeking out a bit.

Photograph shows the road signage plus an informative sign with facts about the construction of the Queensferry Crossing bridge with the support tower and cables behind it.

Along the way, there were signs listing some of the facts about the Queensferry Crossing. It was difficult to comprehend some of them. The one that absolutely blew my mind (not pictured here) was that 23,000 miles of cabling was used in the construction of the Queensferry Crossing. It stated that this is nearly enough to go around the world! That fact is incredible to me.

It was a shame that there were no speakers at the signs like there was at the travel hub. I’m not sure if there were any accommodations made for visually impaired participants.

Photograph shows a wide angle view of one of the bridge supports and crossing cables on the Queensferry Crossing.

I really enjoyed seeing the Queensferry Crossing close up and photographing all the different perspectives of the bridge. I particularly liked the way the cables crisscrossed. Weirdly (for me), I actually experienced a bit of vertigo each time I looked up at the supports. I have no idea why as heights don’t overly bother me.

A photograph of me in my wheelchair on the Queensferry crossing with the support tower behind me to the right.

My Wheelchair Helped To Make My Day More Enjoyable

In the end, I was glad that I took my wheelchair. I was exhausted enough by the end of the event. If I had walked, the PEM I would have experienced afterwards would have been horrific. As it was, I needed to go to my bed by the afternoon and I stayed there for the rest of the day. I was exhausted.

The lovely Theresa Jones (follow her FB craft page here) said something to me on my Facebook page that was wonderfully put. She said, “[That the photograph I posted on FB] just proves you can still accomplish things but… just in a different way.” I needed to be reminded of this. One day I will be able to walk that distance but, I’m not there yet and that’s okay.

I had a really nice morning and it was good to get out and do something. And it’ll be cool in the future to be able to say that I took part in this “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

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4 Comments

  1. I am so glad that you decided to use your wheelchair. I have used a cane for 10 or more years and just a month ago had quite a tumble. My ankles are starting to give out and I have horrendous vertigo – neither condition good when you are already not sure-footed. We have my Dad’s walker but I didn’t want to use it just to go across the street to the dog park. I listened to friends, my hubby, and my doctor and now I know the walker is the best way. And I have my own seat when the benches fill up! This is going to be an experience you will remember for a long time and the chair made it a pleasant one. I am really happy for you!

    • Thank you, Lydia. I am very glad I did too! Oh no, I am sorry to hear this. I hope you aren’t too sore. You must have gotten such a fright when it happened. I think it’s sometimes all too easy to forget that we aren’t able to do things the way we want to. And, I’ve also been reminded that there’s nothing wrong with making more suitable adaptations. I had a great time out in my chair and it made it possible for me. The walker sounds like it has a lot of benefits for you too. It’s nice that you have people around you who gently encourage you as well 🙂

  2. You’re braver than me. I’ll admit, bridges that expand vast distances, especially cable suspension bridges like you crossed, scare me. I’m afraid that the thing will collapse, because they expand a vast distance.

    You go, girl!

    I’m glad the event was accessible to people with disabilities!

    • I did comment that I was glad the bridge had been open to traffic for a day or two before the experience. We were one of the first groups to cross and I wasn’t really up for testing it out haha. I did mention this to my husband (who is a civil engineer) and he just rolled his eyes at me haha. Thank you, they really went out of their way to make sure we all had a good time.

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