Drochaid an Aonachain
|Location Map ( geo)|
|A82 • A86|
|Crossings related to the A86|
In 1800 the site of Spean Bridge was indistinguishable from any other section of the River's valley in the area. There may have been the odd scattered house, a rough path running from it to its neighbours, some trees and maybe a small cropped field and some livestock. In 1850 Spean Bridge was a thriving village, with an important bridge at the junction of the main roads through Glen Spean and the Great Glen. There is only one reason for this rapid change - Thomas Telford. Today the village is a bustling place, particularly in the summer months, most famous for the Commando Memorial which stands on the hill above the river. This brings thousands of visitors into the village every year, with walks and cycle routes in the nearby Leanachan Forest, and the Caledonian Canal also nearby.
Designed and built by Thomas Telford as part of his Badenoch Road, Spean Bridge replaced the old High Bridge a mile or so further west at Kilmonivaig, which he described as being in a 'perilous state'. In doing so Telford moved the centre of this huge rural parish to the junction that he created next to his bridge. It was, in turn, the existence of the bridge and junction that created the village we have today. It was not all plain sailing however, and Telford's first design was swept away twice during construction before a larger bridge was drawn up and successfully built. Dates of both 1815 and 1819 are quoted for completion, perhaps reflecting the problems.
The bridge was widened in 1932 with concrete, the original facing stone work being taken down and re-erected to maintain the appearance of the bridge. It is highly unusual as a Telford Bridge, in that it has three arches of different sizes, the centre one the widest, then the north arch and the southern arch significantly narrower. This was related to the suitability of bedrock in the river, and again may have been a result of the problems encountered during construction. Today the bridge carries the two-way A82 across the river, with a sharp bend and junction immediately at the north end.
Immediately to the north of the bridge, the A82 swings sharply to the left, while the A86 leads off eastwards. It is a difficult, tight junction which ever way you are approaching from, but due to the close proximity of the bridge, and property there is seemingly little that can be done to improve it. The worst bit of the junction is when turning left out of the A86, where a bulge has been put on the corner of the pavement, making it very difficult to turn without clipping the curb.
|Inbhir Nis/Inverness , Commando Memorial 1, Caol Loch Aillse/Kyle of Lochalsh (A87)|
|An Gearasdan/Fort William, Nevis Range|
|Drochaid Ruaidh/Roybridge, Newtonmore, Peairt/Perth, Cairngorms National Park|