|Location Map ( geo)|
|Perth and Kinross|
The name Balquhidder will immediately bring images of Rob Roy and Highland myth and legend to the minds of many people. To stir such deep emotions in the hearts and minds of so many people is quite an achievement for a place that is little more than a scattering of cottages along a quiet side road midway between Callander and Killin. However, there is something more to Balquhidder than Rob Roy, and that is an impressive bridge that lies on the road to the south.
While Stronvar Bridge may not take its name from Balquhidder, it is within very easy walking distance of the villages Mecca - Rob Roy's alleged grave in the churchyard. It spans the little River Balvag just below Loch Voil, and takes its name from the nearby Stronvar House. Today its purpose is long forgotten, with the main A84 running through Strathyre to the east, but in the past this was the main drove road from Killin to Glasgow, climbing up Glen Buckie, and so through the pass to Brig O Turk on the A821 in the heart of the Trossachs. It should not, therefore, be surprising to find such an impressive structure.
The earliest known structure on the site was constructed in 1705-6, and cost around £436. It consisted of stone piers with a timber superstructure, but as early as the 1740s it was in a poor condition, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the Military Road was taken through Strathyre in the east the following decade.
The bridge itself comprises no less than 6 arches of random rubble carrying the single track roadway. There are three to span the river, and another three flood arches on the north bank, each diminishing in size. It cost £215 in 1779-80 when constructed, and was built to replace the earlier structure which was in a state of disrepair. The money came from the annexed estates after the 1745 uprising, as did the finance for a lot of Scottish bridges in the second half of the 18th century.
Two hundred and twenty years later it is still standing, almost untouched. Almost, because the cutwaters have had concrete 'boots' set around them to protect the masonry. Otherwise, the bridge is as it was constructed, and as such very rare.