Interactive map shows new heritage trail of North-east’s iconic bridges

A local authority has produced a new heritage trail, to help people uncover the fascinating history behind some of the North-east’s most stunning beauty spots and iconic bridges.

Aberdeenshire Council has published an accompanying 20-page booklet guide to a dozen of the North-east’s most eye-catching structural wonders.

From an Iron Age route over the famous Cairn O’Mount to the Hanoverian military roads between Deeside and Donside and along the area’s beautiful coast, the trail takes in some 2,800 years of history on a 300-mile circular route.

As the route, which begins at the Grampian Transport Museum, was launched earlier this month, a new plaque was also unveiled on the Bridge of Alford, marking its design by renowned engineer Thomas Telford and construction by William Minto in 1811.

It is one of the 12 historic bridges on the new route which takes participants from mountain to sea through one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

Another crossing on the trail, Banff Bridge, was completed in 1780 by John Smeaton – often regarded as the “father of civil engineering”.

Other notable engineers include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who built Balmoral Bridge for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to get to their new home at Balmoral Castle, which is still a Royal residence today.

And the Old Bridge of Dye on the Cairn O’Mount Road, built in 1681, was a sign of potential danger for travellers on the Great North Road between Edinburgh and Fochabers in times gone by.

The area was notorious for robbers and thieves but in modern times is more known as one of the first roads to be blocked by snow each winter.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Bridges and Structures Manager Donald Macpherson said: “Traveling this 300 mile circular route, over mountains and along our beautiful coastline, is a great way to experience the North-east of Scotland’s stunning roads and awesome historic bridges.”

A guide to accompany the trail and offer more about the history and engineering behind the structures is available digitally from Aberdeenshire Council’s website now, and hard copies will also be made available in public buildings around Aberdeenshire and from the transport museum.

Launching the Aberdeenshire Historic Bridges Trail at the transport museum, Provost Bill Howatson said: “In Aberdeenshire we have so many things to be proud of – a fascinating history, beautiful location, bountiful agriculture, a strong economy and of course excellent people.

“The bridges trail is being launched in Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, which provides an ideal opportunity to celebrate the wealth and diversity of historical and archaeological sites and stories which Aberdeenshire has to offer.”

Head of Economic Development, Belinda Miller, said: “Crossing the prominent Dee, Don and Deveron rivers and taking in many sights along the way, the Historic Bridges Trail gives visitors yet another reason to visit this unique area, and also gives locals a greater understanding of the history and development of the bridges and roads network that they may use on a daily basis.

“We are also pleased to be collaborating with the Grampian Transport Museum as a suggested starting point – adding to the visitor experience.”

The trail guide can be found at http://bit.ly/BridgesTrail
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