Monday, 28 March 2016

Building Bridges

As you already know I admire old today I'm going to talk about building bridges...taking the term as I like to think of it. The photo below is of a bridge crossing the Preston/Lancaster canal. Now in the short walk that I did ...of about 5 miles, there were 11 bridges. Some connected hamlets and farms to main roads, others just provided access for farmers to reach their outlying fields. Now these were constructed when the canal was built and are still in use today .If anything carrying much heavier transport than in the past. Therefore the early builders are to be admired. Many older bridges remain in constant use to this day, others have been bypassed or used as cycle/ walking routes.

Having lived in Scotland I was very aware of bridges on roads linking towns and villages. In Banff there is a fine many arched bridge crossing the River Deveron that was constructed in the 1700's as access to Duff House. It is on a main route along the coast and carries all the various types of transport between the towns, and joining main links to Aberdeen and Inverness. Further afield are other fine examples. The old bridge at Cragellachie, built by Telford is now bypassed, but offers a walking route and a photo also, on the same road the bridge at Ballindalloch ( also bypassed ). The reason that they are out of favour is not due to weakness, but rather that they are narrow ( and with a sharp bend as an entrance ) , making it difficult for lorries and buses to negotiate safely.

Some bridges are really quite ancient, like the remains of the packhorse bridge at Carrbridge, and the seven bridges at Wycoller ( one of which is thought to have been constructed by using a prehistoric megalith!) . Tragically many ancient bridges in the Lake District succumbed to the recent flooding.....and what a loss this is, for we have relied upon the ancient technology to remain part of our modern transport system. Of course it's not only road bridges that may be 'old' for the rail network too relies upon these structures. Probably the most admired one being the rail bridge across the Forth...(1866) ,designed by Bouch. Now Bouch was also responsible for the Tay rail Bridge ......unfortunately the one that collapsed in a dreadful storm in 1879' and immortalised in William Topaz McGonagall's poem of 1880. Now Sir Bouch never recovered from the results of the inquiry into the disaster....but "The Tay Bridge Disaster" brought fame to a much maligned poet !! McGonagall is referred to as ' Scotland's worst poet' and the poem as well ! But most people can remember at least a line of it !! I'm not going to tell you...if you don't know then look it up yourself!

As for my contribution this week , I looked through my notebook, thinking that I did not have any poem that referred to a bridge......but in a way, I found one!

Loved these many years since first discovered.
Feeling my spirits rise akin to meeting a long lost lover.
A feeling of elation, as if all cares have been banished.
Joy to my very core and all worries have vanished.

I recall paths that I've trod, places I've been to -
Like an old friend, close to my heart
As though we'd never been apart.
I rediscover the moorland, river and vale,
Recalling places I've sat and contemplated this lovely dale.
When first I saw Dunsop Valley, it felt like home-
Like the Scotland I'd left behind.
I never tire and am always eager to roam-
Dunsop Valley