An information plaque on one of the viaduct columns provides a brief overview of its history: In 1969, after being in use for 100 years, this railway viaduct was preserved for the public by the Northumberland and Newcastle Society through the generosity of many donors. The viaduct was constructed in 1862 to carry the North Tyne Railway and is a notable example of Victorian engineering. It is a rare and the finest surviving example of the skew arch form of construction. This required that each stone in the arches should be individually shaped in accordance with the method evolved by Peter Nicholson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a pioneer geometrician in this field.
The viaduct is decorated with crenelated ramparts and arrow slits to appease the Duke of Northumberland. The line passed in front of his hunting lodge at Kielder Castle and he insisted that its design should be consistent with the castle’s Gothic style.
Later known as the Border Counties Railway (BCR), it ran from Riccarton just over the Scottish Border all the way down the North Tyne Valley to Hexham. Opening in stages between 1858 and 1862, commercial traffic was limited from the outset and the thinly populated Borders meant that passenger numbers were always small. The line closed to passengers in 1956 and the tracks lifted in 1963.
From the banks of the North Tyne
The view from atop the viaduct
Keep walking south for just under a mile, following the route of the abandoned line and you are confronted with open water. This is where the BCR is submerged beneath Kielder Water, not reappearing until Falstone, some six miles south and beyond Kielder Dam. Much else lies beneath – Plashetts Colliery, the station, parts of the old village, various farms and HMS Standard. Sadly, a prolonged drought will not reveal ghost villages as the buildings were destroyed before the valley was flooded. Nor will the superstructure of some long lost battleship emerge – HMS Standard was a shore based assessment and rehabilitation centre for naval personnel diagnosed with personality disorders. Whatever inspired the reservoir’s civil engineers, it wasn’t the lost city of Atlantis.
The end of the line
Beneath the viaduct there is a neat little device called a blackbox-av. Wind the handle to provide a charge and you can listen to the Viaduct Voices – short stories told by locals about the railway, the wildlife and a time before the coming of the reservoir. The voices are appropriately faint and distant – much like Hendersen’s Bridge on Raasay.
… the bikes have taken me in the last few days in search of images. The old rolling stock being put to an agricultural use sits in a field above Allendale. Thorneyburn is way over yonder in the minor key – between Bellingham and Kielder. Linnels Bridge and the Mill are on the road between Hexham and Slaley. The transport for most of this can be seen in the last. What an unpredictable summer it has been.
… in Northumberland (and elsewhere) – a selection of images from the the month which first appeared on Blip. It started out relatively mild and I kept riding but, since the 19th the temperatures dropped, the wind got up and the Yamaha has been locked up in the garage (the other two are off road for the winter). The last game of golf was on the 23rd – I could be in for a long winter 😦
After a long wet winter, I have been grabbing sunshine and spending much less time at the keyboard. This can only be a good thing. My daily images on Blipfoto tell a story of warm weather and escape: on canals, on two wheels, on golf courses – some might say an unlikely combination but the stereotypical biker is a myth. We are all differently made but we ride for the same reasons.
My good lady recently bought me a digital subscription to Iron and Air, an American bike magazine which combines images and words verging on the poetic. In my usual compulsive manner, I am working my way through every back copy – this from Dave Karlotski, Season of the Bike, in Issue 1:
“At 30 miles an hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree-smells and flower-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it’s as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me … “
Riding the arrow-straight Military Road that runs parallel to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland you cross paths with heavily laden lumber lorries carrying timber south from the forests at Kielder. At 60mph they create a bow wave, an invisible wake of air that unsettles the bike at a combined speed in excess of 100mph. For a very brief moment in time the air turns warm and heavy with the scent of diesel – it is an oddly intimate and uplifting experience.
“Cars lie to us and tell us we’re safe, powerful and in control. The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, “Sleep, sleep.” Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that’s no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride.”
This post dedicated to Ian Bell, supplier of this Yamaha.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer lovin’. Thus far it has been a fabulous summer in Northumberland and fortunately we have no plans to go anywhere until the Autumn – what is the point when we live in this glorious county.
This was my summer lovin’ week in Northumberland:
Sunday – heavy rain overnight but the skies are clear:
Monday – temperatures are rising and it is becoming almost ‘too darn hot‘:
Tuesday – an evening walk along the Tyne at Corbridge – it is looking low:
Wednesday – remember this heat in the bleak, dark December days:
Thursday – a view across a sweltering county from Hedley on the Hill:
Friday – There is talk on the local news of the heat damaging road surfaces – can’t resist it can they – no good news without the obligatory bad. This one seems to be holding together: