Falkirk MP John McNally found his sea legs on Tuesday to join colleagues on board the Maid of the Forth at the launch of the Inner Forth Festival.
Mr McNally was one of the elected officials from the Forth Valley area invited to cruise the Firth of Forth by event organisers the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI).
While the cruise, which also included IFLI volunteers, supporters and representatives of partner charities and organisations, marked the start of the month-long Inner Forth Festival, it also served a practical purpose – giving Mr McNally and his colleagues a chance to see for themselves a number of projects the IFLI is involved in along the shores.
The SNP MP said: “The weather was kind to us and it didn’t rain. It’s a mighty stretch of water – you don’t realise it’s as wide as it is until you are out in the middle of it.
“I’m grateful to all the IFLI volunteers who made it possible. It was very informative, with an oral history of the area and talks on all the IFLI projects which are going on and the Inner Forth Festival events.”
Sue Walker, IFLI spokesperson, said: “For the first time politicians from all four local authority areas that surround the upper river – Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Fife, got together to help celebrate the history, wildlife and people of the fantastic landscape they share, the Inner Forth.
“The cruise travelled up and down the Inner Forth between the Forth and Kincardine Bridges, looking to shore at some of IFLI’s 50 projects from a new perspective. Local experts talked about the vitally important wildlife and history of the area and how IFLI aims to protect and celebrate this important heritage for the future.”
The Inner Forth Festival, co-ordinated by IFLI, involves 27 events held throughout September, all around the Inner Forth, and all free of charge thanks to the way the initiative is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Sue said: “There will be something for everyone, with family events, workshops, guided wildlife walks, archaeological digs, exhibitions, talks, cycle rides, a 100-strong conference, and will come to an end with a weekend-long heritage event.
“The aim of the Festival is to encourage more people to appreciate the fascinating history and wildlife of this sometimes undervalued part of Scotland.”
Visit www.innerforthlandscape.co.uk for full list of all the IFLI projects, along with further information on the Inner Forth Festival.