Sunday, September 27, 2009

Of More Bridges and River

About 12 kms South of here there is a river, little more than a dribble much of the time, and barely even that this summer, but even when there is no water there is a sense of coolness and green, a ribbon of green that winds through the dry, yellow-brown land.

It is not a prodigy of natural beauty, but it has as certain interest, and is worthy a look for several reasons: firstly, at least it is green and wet, and there isn't much of that here; secondly, there is a farm there, a large collection of rather dilapidated buildings which have a certain charm and a strong smell of sheep; thirdly, there is an old railway bridge there, an iron structure, though of less aesthetic and technical merit than the one to the North; and fourthly, and most importantly for those who like that sort of thing, just beyond the river the old railway line sweeps away from the new, which carries straight on through a hill, just at the point where the old one sweeps back and climbs the same hill, using it as a natural bridge to pass over the new, then describing a curve out on the other side, and coming back to run beside each other again. This manoeuvre was required at some point, because when the finally separate, the old line goes West, while the new goes South, and the solution is clever and beautiful (again, if you like that sort of thing).

As we rested before starting back, the sheep came by, hundreds of them, stirring up a dust cloud that made them almost invisible as they wandered away, in the general direction of their barn. They had, presumably, finished eating, or the shepherd had decided it was getting too hot.

We returned yesterday to another couple of bridges which cross the river to the North. The one in the picture is long disused, and it's chief interest is in the visible remains of the mill that was once there. On the other side there are areas of peat, which can burst into flame unexpectedly and needs to be treated with some caution as you cross it. There was no water at all there, although there was further along, nearer the tail of the reservoir. Even so, the riverbed was green.

An old man on a bike said that he remembered how, as a child, he had seen the water rushing along in a torrent two metres deep, threatening to burst the banks of what is now just a dry trench. When I am his age, I shall probably remember it, too.

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