Snowy views have inspired me for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Black and white definitely feels cold in the view of the Victorian bridge. But I felt that the sepia tones really warmed up the snowy sunrise looking across our valley.
Living in a landscape of rivers and old railways means we have lots of bridges in our area. Here are some of my favourite bridge pictures that I’ve previously featured on my blog – from Tyneside icons to forgotten relics – for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.
Standing a few miles downstream from our village, the green bridge above is the newest bridge on the River Derwent, the river that runs through our valley. This bridge is the new replacement for the older Butterfly Bridge that was washed away in floods in September 2008. I love walking down by the river. It is normally such a peaceful and beautiful river, it seems hard to imagine it so swollen and powerful that it tore out trees and battered them against the sturdy metal bridge until the bridge was ripped away from its stone foundations. The same flood caused a significant amount of damage along the valley. It seemed for a while the old bridge would not be replaced, so I was very pleased when the new bridge was built and opened in 2011.
Gateshead’s Millennium Bridge spans the River Tyne between the redeveloped quaysides of Gateshead and Newcastle. Carrying only pedestrians and cyclists, this bridge has quickly become a favourite with many people and an icon of modern Tyneside. The Millennium Bridge is unique in the way it tilts open to allow larger ships to pass through.
Staying on the River Tyne, but around 20 miles upstream from Gateshead’s Millennium Bridge, stands the historic market town of Hexham. Hexham Bridge is a busy road bridge carrying traffic in and out of the town from the north bank. This 9-arched stone bridge was built in 1793.
I couldn’t resist a seasonally snowy bridge photo to complete this post! I have posted other images previously of this Victorian railway bridge in our woods, but I think it looks so lovely like this, decorated with soft snow 🙂
The natural world is so rich with patterns, from tiny patterns on leaves or insects to patterns in the landscape or even skyscapes. I have chosen a few of my favourite kinds of pattern for Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week.
The header image to my post is something I love to look out for on snowy winter walks. I love the way soft snow settles on every branch and twig and creates a snow image of the tree. This hazel has many slender branches creating a classic outline to this coppiced shrub. The criss-crossing twigs coated in snow are like sugar strands decorating a giant cake.
Ferns are fascinating in Spring. I love the way they gradually unfurl and stretch their out fronds. I can imagine them as circles of delicate ballet dancers dancing on the Springtime woodland floor, creating graceful patterns against the darker trees.
Shadows are another favourite of mine. I love the way light and shade create their own shapes and patterns. The angle of the sun here in early Autumn creates longer shadows and draws exaggerated patterns of the trees upon the path as we walk through the woods.
Sometimes we spot very striking patterns that have been built into our landscape. This wrought ironwork forms the fencing along either side of a narrow Victorian railway viaduct. I love the simple classical elegance of this pattern as it recedes into the distance. I think the Victorians were good at creating designs that were very practical yet aesthetically pleasing too.
Clues to an industrial history criss-cross our now-green-and-peaceful landscape in the form of old railways and waggonways. These old transport tracks now serve as walking and cycling trails by which we are able to explore a significant amount of the north east region and also further afield. Throughout much of the nineteeth century railways and waggonways abounded in our region, particularly to enable the transportation of coal. Many bridges were built either to carry the tracks across the steep-sided streams that are a major feature of our valley, or to allow established roadways to cross the newly-built railways. Some of these bridges were lost during the later decades of last century when rural railways were abandoned on a huge scale here in the UK, but fortunately many bridges survived and now form historical features of the walking and cycling trails.
Thinking about black and white for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week led me to remember and seek out images of some of these bridges I had collected a few years ago for another project.
The bridge in this first image carries the old road over what was the mineral railway line that carried coal from our village ‘pits’ down to the River Tyne. We often walk this way so we have seen it in all weathers. I think the snow seems to add something to the ‘by-gone era’ feeling of this Victorian stone-built bridge.
Only a short distance away on this same old railway there is another stone bridge, built in a similar style to the first. This one carried the single-track railway over a farm track that provided access to the fields and woods beyond. Now the bridge arch is largely filled with earth underneath, as on this stretch the old railway forms the boundary to a golf course. Unlike the first bridge which stands as a well-known landmark and proud historical reminder, this one is almost hidden away and overgrown.
It’s not a railway bridge, I know, but it is a nineteeth century construction and it was built to aid travelling, so I decided to include it in this post. There are several of these arched stone-built or brick-built culverts dotted around our woods. As with this one, the culverts were used to carry the streams underneath paths and tracks. Earth would have been embanked on top of the culvert to help level out the path as it passed over the steep-sided stream, making it easier to walk, ride a horse or transport goods by cart through this part of the wood.
Another Victorian railway line and another Victorian bridge. This lop-sided bridge still carries a farm road over the Derwent Walk Railway Path. No, it isn’t your eyes, or my dodgy photography [not this time!] … the bridge does slope downhill from left to right. This railway through the picturesque Derwent Valley formed the Consett branch line of the North Eastern Railway. Opened in 1867, it was a busy railway linking Consett to Newcastle, carrying passengers and goods. There are no rails on this track any longer but it remains busy as part of the C2C route of the Sustrans National Cycle Network – the C2C literally crosses the UK from coast to coast, east to west … or west to east depending on which direction you choose to cycle!
I’ve saved the biggest bridge until last! The Nine Arches Viaduct is one of those marvels of Victorian engineering at 500 feet long and rising 80 feet above the River Derwent. One of four viaducts along the Derwent Walk Railway Path, the impressive Nine Arches Viaduct only came to be built because the Earl of Strathmore refused to allow the railway to cross his land at Gibside on the south side of the valley. Looking underneath the arches of the viaduct, you can see where a ‘second’ bridge has been added to allow a second track to be laid along the route. There are some marvelous views to be had from this vantage point – perhaps I can show you another day.