The river Forth flows approximately 45 miles/72km from its source on the slopes of Ben Lomond to expand into the Firth of Forth beyond Stirling at Kincardine. The Forth is the major river in east central Scotland, and as such complements the river Clyde in the west. The two rivers are joined by the Forth and Clyde canal between Grangemouth and Bowling. The canal was built between 1768 and 1790.

During the Scottish wars of independence, Stirling became a point of contention, as it was the easternmost crossing-point of the Forth. Stirling Castle has stood here since before the 12th century, and overlooks the wide river valley. William Wallace fought the battle of Stirling Bridge here in 1297, and Robert the Bruce won the Battle of Bannockburn within sight of the castle in 1314.

The northern coast of the firth includes towns such as Grangemouth, famous for its oil refineries, and Rosyth, home of a naval dockyard. North and South Queensferry are named for their importance as crossing places from early times, and are home to the Forth road and railway bridges. Edinburgh is on the south coast of the firth, as is its port of Leith, now home to the former royal yacht Britannia. The holiday resort town of North Berwick looks across to the noted bird sanctuary on Bass Rock at the mouth of the firth.

The Forth is therefore one of Scotland’s major rivers, and has been a major influence on the country’s history and geography, and its economic success.

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