Tuesday, 15 June 2010

ABC Wednesday - Viaduct

Let me take you on a trip round some of the vintage viaducts in the east of Cumbria. The most perfect of them rides across its surroundings and nestles down in what is now the Smardale Gill Nature Reserve. This Grade II listed structure, 90 feet high, 184 yards long with 14 arches, was designed in 1861 by Thomas Bouch (probably more famous for his disastrous construction of the Tay Bridge which collapsed in high winds).  The Smardale Viaduct was built for the South Durham & Lancaster Union Railway which crossed the Pennines to take coke from County Durham to the iron and steel furnaces of Barrow and West Cumbria. At its peak, in the 1880s, the volume of one million tons of coke a year were transported along the line.  When Barrow steelworks closed in 1962 so did the railway.
Thanks to the formation of the Northern Viaducts Trust in 1989 this and other viaducts were restored and saved. The original stone was all quarried locally.  Which is also the reason this nature reserve is so important
both for its limestone which supports many rare plants and invertebrates and also the sandstone on another side which sometimes merges with the limestone and becomes brockam.
 Limekilns, visible in the top of the photo, (who could resist the contrast with the blossom) were used to burn limestone to make lime which could be spread on fields to neutralise acidity in the soil, my Uncle Charlie used to say it was like sprinkling sugar on the land.

Scandal Beck which runs below the viaduct after weaving its way through the woods rolls down the verdant valley and is home to many creatures, the walkers on the bridge are seeing if they can spot anything
such as the white clawed crayfish, thankfully not not the same size as the way-sign, although it would be easier to spot.

Are you thinking "but what about the viaducts".  OK here is another one
 the Merrygill Viaduct, nine arches of 30 feet span.  Not as easy to photograph you have to scramble down the steep side and then haul yourself back up by the fence, which luckily only has barbed wire on the top. It is pleasing  to see the bends in the wire where other hands before you have done exactly the same thing.
The old railway track is now a walk which takes you to the Podgill Viaduct, this is the view from the picnic tables where victuals can be consumed, an idyllic place with the birds chirping away and the trees sheltering me from the drizzle of rain.  No sign of the native red squirrels but we did spot two resident macaws flying overhead from nearby John Strutt Conservation.Trust.
The Smardale Gill Viaduct was built as a double track but it only ever had one track, however the Podgill Viaduct was built as a single track and then they had to widen it, notice the two different types of stone.  The statistics are, eleven arches crossing Ladthwaite Beck at a height of 84 feet.
The trail then leads on the the Poetry Path, (poet Meg Peacock and artist Pip Hall) with a variety of shapes, stones and script.  The verse says
"Squirrel is speaking his mindknapweed purples the banks/ for touch, taste, small, sight, hearing/ 
I give thanks"

And leads this time to a bridge, not a viaduct, over the River Eden, one of the few large rivers in England flowing north. The fracture in the earth's crust here means the river has disappeared down the Coopkarnel, a Danish word for cup-shaped chasm, or perhaps, so I can get another v word in, a vent.
Here is the end of the walks of the northern viaducts trust so take a seat and venerate  those that built the structures and the nature that surrounds them.

Take a Visit to the other participants in ABC Wednesday and see lots more words beginning with V.

16 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Your photos are breathtaking! So much incredible beauty not to mention great choices for the V day! I love the flowering tree and the viaducts are so beautiful in their own way! Hope you have a great week, Joy!

Sylvia

brenda w said...

What a gorgeous tour your provide. Thank you. Interesting info about Thomas Bouch. It's interesting how people cling to memories of disasters, and forget some of the good works in the world.

Manang Kim said...

Oh wow this should be preserve this kind of site is rare now a days. Happy weekend!


My letter V‘s

peripheralperceptions said...

I can truthfully say those are the most beautiful Viaducts I've ever seen. I love the Verse and WANT that bench in my yard!

Tumblewords: said...

Exquisite photos. The rock/stone work is absolutely beautiful. There's an abandoned limekiln on the shore of a nearby lake ~ they used barges for the first part of the journey.

Gayle said...

Totally charming pictures!

photowannabe said...

So lovely. I would love to walk along there.

Jingle said...

fabulous,
love the images absolutely...
Smiles!

mine is #71.

Andy said...

The viaducts look extremely strong. Everything appears to be in a park like setting. I like your photos. You have a good eye for capturing the scenes.

Roger Owen Green said...

love the viaducts. ancient yet up to date
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Jay said...

What a lovely post! Such gorgeous scenery - and I love the viaducts, lime kilns and bridges. The first shot is such a great angle - makes a wonderfully peaceful and satisfying composition! And I love the bridge over the Eden, with its deep chasm.

MinB2139 said...

你不能改變容貌~~但你可以展現笑容..................................................

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

What an excellent journey and I love that bench at the end - one needs to sit after a walk like that.

jabblog said...

What a marvellous post with so much information and such glorious photographs. Your love and pride for your area shine through :-)

mrsnesbitt said...

Thanks so much for your contribution - we have just returned from our annual pilgrimage to the Isle of Man and can't help but think we must have come very near to your neck of the woods. We travelled to Heysham via Hawes and Ingleton - whereabouts are you? I saw the Ribblesdale viaduct!

I try to visit as many contributors as possible each week but sometimes I just dont manage it, but we have a great ABC team and between us we see that everybody gets a comment. We are coming to the end of the current round and plans are in store for the next round, I do hope you will be part of the fun! If you would like to be part of the team just drop me an e-mail :-

Denise Nesbitt
ABC Wednesday founder & team member

denisebydesigns at googlemail dot com

千TatianaCallan惠 said...

要持續更新下去喲!!祝你心情愉快............................................................