Tuesday 6 October 2009

Carnachuin Bridge, Glen Feshie

Glen Feshie is one of my favourite glens in the Cairngorms with wonderful old pine forest sandwiched between steep slopes, craggy in places, and the braided river Feshie rushing through the trees. The Feshie is fierce and fast with many gravel banks and channels. After heavy rain it rises rapidly and becomes a powerful torrent. There are only a few bridges across the Feshie and one of these has now gone. The Carnachuin Bridge, a wide wooden structure, was swept away by a huge flood on September 3, as reported by the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and Walk Highlands (with a dramatic photo taken by an estate worker during the flood). This bridge was regularly used by walkers and mountain bikers who had come along the estate road on the west side of the glen. Viewing the remains of the bridge a month after it had been swept away and with the Feshie in more subdued mood I felt a mixture of sadness and awe. Sadness because I had often crossed the old rickety bridge with its missing planks and twisted shape and have many memories of it, awe because of the power required to destroy the bridge, which stood many feet above the river when the latter was at normal height. The bridge was quite decrepit and there had been warning notices on it for many years so it was going to collapse eventually unless repaired but I don’t think anyone had expected it to go in such a spectacular way. The estate has said a new bridge should be erected in May or June next year.

Turning away from the shattered remnants of the bridge I climbed the slopes above to rolling Mullach Clach a’Bhlair, a big, bulky Munro. A walker was just leaving the summit. He’d walked down Glen Feshie to the Carnachuin Bridge, not knowing it was no longer there, after crossing the Feshie by the pony bridge 2.8 kilometres lower down the glen (a popular route as the road can be used on the east side rather than narrow footpaths on the west side). Finding the bridge gone he’d then walked back to the pony bridge and down the glen on the other side, adding 5.6 kilometres to his walk. He said there was a sign about the Carnachuin Bridge above the first bridge but he’d only seen it on his way back. Really there should be signs at the Glen Feshie car park and on the western side of the pony bridge.

Photo info: The remains of the Carnachuin Bridge. Canon EOS 450D, Tamron 11-18@11mm, 1/200 @ f5.6, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.4.


  1. You are so right about mixed thoughts about it going I feel the same. Was last at the bridge in March and knew then it wasn't gonna be there that much longer for its state. It was a very useful bridge and fun to cross but there is something very natural the way man builds things and nature destroys.

    Enjoying your site very much.

    Grant Duff

  2. That is a long time to wait for a new one, can you cross else where in the meantime?
    Sue doing better...
    All the best

  3. Glad to hear you're enjoying the site Grant. Thanks for your comment.

    Tony, only the bridge 2.8km downstream. Or you could wade when the river was low.

  4. Any news on the replacement? Would be useful to know if it's up yet, although the news said 'May/June' so perhaps the great work is still in progress..? Cheers, Will

  5. Will, I haven't heard anything yet. A week ago the signs about the bridge being down were still up in Glen Feshie.

  6. Update on the bridge:

    I was at Ruigh Aiteachain in the last few days and the bridge has not yet been replaced.

    A local man actually drove me across the river in his jeep - bless him. Never caught his name but he was a local stalker managing the deer and fox activity.

    FYI I also noted signs stating that parts of the walking track (I believe in the upper North Feshie area) has been washed away and will require the river to be crossed 3 times.

  7. Can anyone provide an update on this? Thanks.

  8. The bridge still hasn't been replaced.

    Although there are several landslips across the path in the upper Glen these are not difficult to cross. There's no need to ford the river.