Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Clyde swans

I wonder if anyone has ever counted, or estimated, the population of swans along the length of the River Clyde?

Since I discovered that the river was a reasonably close neighbour, and that there were numerous legitimate, and maybe some not so legitimate, ways to get down to it, I’ve been a fairly regular visitor over the past few years, and walked most of the riverside path that can be reached within a day’s walking. I’ve been fortunate enough to cover some stretches with a local historian, able to point at some of the structures evident along the edges, and evidence of long lost bridges and crossing, and I’m grateful for his help, as this experience has enabled me to spot more of these features, which would have gone otherwise unnoticed. The only disappointment is that I’ve managed to identify very few of them, even with the help of old surveys and maps of the area.

One of the odd things that I have noticed during these visits is that the river always present some swans for me to look at. Not great flocks, usually just a few pairs, but they always seem to be in sight somewhere.

The pair below seemed to swim into view from nowhere while I was visiting the old weir at Carmyle, and a few seconds after I grabbed the pic they flew off, and I didn’t see any more for the rest of the day. The weir served a bleachworks and grain mill, long lost from the area.

Carmyle weir river clyde swans

Swan on the River Clyde at Carmyle weir

The bridge or viaduct seen in the background is interesting, and used to carry the railway track over the river, in an area where there used to be numerous coal mines, and mineral railways. Like most railways, the line was closed many years ago, and the track lifted. In this case, the crossing comes to a complete dead end in the trees to the right of the picture, leaving a something in the order of a three or four metre drop to the ground below.

The crossing itself has been stripped all the former track, and the two ends are supposed to be closed off and sealed by metal fencing, however, access panels have been cut into these, and it’s possible to cross the river using the bridge. I’ve only used it once, more of curiosity than need for access, and the engineer in me wasn’t sure what to make of it. Clearly abandoned and unmaintained for decades, the deck is full of holes, and even though it is now grass covered, there’s no problem in seeing the river through the holes. With no maintenance, the structure is riddled with rust, and while it all looks solid, and the impact of one tiny body may not be significant, I also know that rust can eat through such structures and leave little surface evidence while the metal below is little more than a crumbling oxide. Once, it would have carried steam locomotives weighing upwards of 70 tons, plus their tenders and carriages, yet you wonder of you might become another river statistic if you head across it a few years after it was closed.

Without a survey, there’s no way to know whether or not any given spot underfoot is solid metal, or crumbling rust, but it does seem to be a pity that it wasn’t preserved or reused in some way to provide a proper and safe pedestrian crossing over the river, if they weren’t going to remove it fully when it was closed.

12/01/2010 - Posted by | photography | , ,

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