Firth of Forth marathon swim.
I sometimes used to swim off the beach at North Berwick in preparation for channel swims and would look over across the Forth to the coast the other side in Fife thinking that it would be a great swim. I finally got inspired in the summer of 2011 to find someone with a boat and to give it a shot. Setting this swim up actually proved quite tough as no matter which dive school, sailing school or local fisherman that I talked to I always drew a blank as regards finding someone to accompany me. In the end Port Edgar marina came up trumps and offered to provide a small rib (a dinghy with a rigid base and large outboard motor) with a crew of two for the day. The weather in the ten days or so before the swim was atrocious and it would have been too rough to swim but by the planned day of the swim it was calm and sunny. The first leg of the swim takes you out past Craigleith island and you are surrounded by all sorts of sea birds including puffins and the famous local gannets from the Bass Rock that dive down into the water close by you. Then you can head more or less straight for the beach at Earlsferry allowing for some minor tidal effects.
I had heard that Ned Barnie, something of a local character who used to swim in the Forth off Portobello beach every day of the year, had done a much shorter swim further up the estuary from Granton to Burntisland back in 1924, but apart from this I assumed the swim had not been attempted before. This subsequently proved to be untrue as Andrea Gellan, the first and only person to cross the notorious Pentland Firth, did the swim in the 1990s.
The distance of the swim is approximately 10 miles and despite the fact that this swim has not been done much before I think it is still a great one to do, especially if you are thinking of doing the English Channel as there are many similarities in the kinds of sea conditions and shipping that you are likely to encounter.
You will need to inform the relevant coastguards and harbour masters of your intentions a few days in advance as there are a few tankers and ferries that make their way up towards Grangemouth and Leith.