Dunbeath was the last point on the A9 where the road had to fight the contours in a long descent and reascent. This time to cross the Dunbeath Water. The original road built by Telford still exists, winding its way down and up again, while the new road with a new approach alignment to the south, soars across the valley, barely even noticing the village beneath.
The new bridge at Dunbeath is more of a Viaduct like you would find carrying a Motorway, although the gradient is probably steeper than any motorway! There are five spans in total, supported by Steel Girders spanning between paired concrete legs. It is not just the gradient that is unusual, however, as the bridge is also built on a slight curve to fit the terrain and old alignments of the A9.
The stone arch of Telford's old bridge still stand a little to the west of the new bridge, carrying a minor road which also passes under the new bridge. This bridge was built in 1809-13, so started after that at Helmsdale, and taking a little longer to construct. It is, however, slightly less ornate, with just a single span and simple parapets without moldings. The bridge also remains two-way, as footways have not been inserted on the deck.
Looking south across the bends of Berriedale
The Berriedale Braes lie to the south of Dunbeath, just short of halfway back to Helmsdale. The steep valleys of the Langdale and Berriedale waters meet just 100m or so inland from the coast, creating an even steeper valley for the A9 to cross. For some strange reason, this valley has not been bridged like Helmsdale to the south or Dunbeath to the north, leaving sharp bends, a hairpin and steep hills on either side of Telford's little bridge.