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Shiel Bridge (Acharacle)

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Shiel Bridge
Location Map ( geo)
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From:  Moidart
To:  Acharacle
Highway Authority
Opening Date
c1805, 1899/1935
Additional Information
Engineer:  Thomas Telford
On road(s)
Crossings related to the A861
This article is about The bridge across the River Shiel on the A861 north of Acharacle.
For the bridge across the River Shiel on the A87 in Kintail, see Shiel Bridge (Kintail)

There are only two bridges across the short River Shiel north of Acharacle. The older bridge is a narrow single arch span across a narrow point in the river, hidden amongst the trees. The newer bridge sits in the meadows at the foot of Loch Shiel, and crosses the river in 3 wide spans.

The Old Bridge

The old Shiel Bridge

The old Shiel Bridge never carried the A861. Indeed, based on the plaque on the middle of the bridge, the bridge appears to have been superseded as long ago as 1899, although not by the current bridge, which appears to date from 1935 (records are not clear). The bridge dates back to 1804, being constructed as part of Thomas Telford's road from Corran Ferry to Kinlochmoidart, where it terminated until the A861 was extended in the mid 1960s. The bridge is humped over the centre of the arch, perhaps more so than any other Telford Bridge in the Highlands, as he tried to produce a level roadway whenever possible. The parapets are also unusual, in that on the north bank one runs into a rock face while the other sweeps round as a long wing wall. Access to the bridge from the road on the north side is easy enough, but the landowner on the south bank has reclaimed the old road line and it is closed off.

The New Bridge

The current Shiel Bridge carrying the A861 across the River Shiel was constructed in 1935 and consists of three wide arches spanning the river, and a long causeway with small flood arches to the north. The bridge is single track, as is the road at either end, but with so little traffic in the area it rarely poses a problem! It was built quite a distance further upstream, where the river is considerably wider, hence the three arches. The parapets are castellated, and the semi circular cut waters are carried up as small turrets, then corbelled out to provide pedestrian refuges between the arches, squared up at either end. The whole bridge is built from coursed rubble, giving quite a rustic feel.

Shiel Bridge (Acharacle)
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