Crossing the Dee

20 Feb


Crossing the Dee.

I have crossed the River’s Dee many times in the past seventy odd years. With my wartime roots in Aberdeenshire twixt the Dee & Don – all roads had to lead south.

The Aberdeenshire Dee made famous by Queen Victoria and subsequent royalty was crossed on numerous occasions and the Invercauld Bridge in the heart of royal territory between Crathes Church and Braemar was used regularly by my family.

I had a grandfather on my father’s side who was grieve at MacRobert Estates on Deeside and grandfather on my mother’s was a farm grieve near Gartly which lay to the north just a few miles from Huntly. The roads between were a well-kent trail – as – with my father off for the duration fighting the Hun and my mother laid seriously ill in an Aberdeen hospital I was shuttled between the two sets of grandparents.

Invercauld by Sabre

Invercauld Bridge over the Aberdeenshire River Dee by Sabre.

A great deal of water had passed under the bridge and many miles were travelled in pursuit of a living before I was to settle by my next River Dee which rises in North Wales and flows into the Irish Sea after a detour around the walled city of Chester.


Old Chester Bridge over the River Dee by Stepped.

I have watched the blue streak of the kingfisher dart through the arches of the Old Chester bridge on several occasions with the nearby riverside walks or exploring the remains from Roman times being amongst my favourite days out as I headed towards retirement.



Just part of the Roman Gardens – Chester courtesy of Diva Victrix

With retirement reached I upped sticks and found another River Dee to settle by. This time in Dumfries and Galloway.


Remains of Milecastle 39 on Hadrian’s Wall courtesy of Wilkipedia

The Romans had been here in the past but only lingered long enough to build a seven acre fort by the River Dee at Glenlochar. It didn’t take them long to realise that the cost of subduing the Picts and Scots wasn’t worth the bother so they quickly scarpered south to Cumbria and Northumbria where Julius Agricola built a massive fortified wall from coast to coast leaving the heathen Scots to their own devices. Not much has changed north of Hadrian’s wall to this day.

Telford's Bridge 002

So-o — onwards and upwards … more Bridges over the Dee.

That great engineer Thomas Telford was born in Dumfries and Galloway and amongst other things this busy fella designed the fine road bridge over the Dee at Tongland where I took the eyeball pic a few years ago.

The thumbnail – top left at the beginning of this post shows the completed bridges as they were in the late 1800’s.

Thanks to the Stewartry Museum next door to my home I have unearthed a rare photo of a steam train crossing the Tongland Viaduct just a few yards upstream from the current Thomas Telford road bridge —

train on Dee viaduct

This was obviously prior to that UK Government sponsored vandal (Sir) Robert Beeching tearing up the bridge deck in 1966 leaving only the support piers sticking up. They were pulled down in 2005.

Dee_at_Tongland by Alison Stamp

The Dee at Tongland courtesy of Alison Stamp

Well — it wasn’y my intention when I started this blogpost but this has turned into a longwinded way of taking another swipe at (Sir) Robert Beeching for what he did to the railway infrastructure of the UK in the 60s under the guise of ‘streamlining’.


There were countless bridge decks around the UK needlessly torn down on his direction as he fruitlessly strove to ‘improve’ British Rail. Hell – I even pulled some down myself as a mobile crane driver in the mid sixties. Most were road crossings which usually meant fortyeight hour road closures as we worked non-stop to have the roads open for Monday morning commuters. Had the bridges been left in situ they would have helped create a readymade network of cycling and walking routes in years to come.

Short term remedies ordained by short term governments — such is the curse of democracy.


British Railways crest courtesy of Kim Traynor.

poser 2

Eight years here and I’m still looking for that elusive kingfisher 🙂






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Posted by on February 20, 2016 in out and about


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