Monday 16 September 2013

THE REAL ATLANTIC BRIDGE (not the one associated with Thatcher, Hague, Fox and Werrity)

The Atlantic Brige
The Bridge over the Atlantic (as opposed to the Atlantic Bridge), as the humpbacked Clachan Bridge is known, joins tiny Seil Island with the Scottish mainland. Ten miles south of Oban, the bridge spans the tidal waters of the Atlantic at Clachan Sound. Although the bridge is part of a single track road, and with a sufficiently steep hump to obscure any view of oncoming traffic, both approach roads are clear and open, allowing ample opportunity to ensure clear passage.

The bridge was completed in 1793, at a cost of £450 (about $700). Combined with the considerably deeper channel that existed when it was built, the single high arch seen today was designed to allow ships to pass under the bridge. Today, 40 ton lorries cross the bridge, thanks to additional strengthening, while local legend tells of a fully laden cart of hay being used to test its safety once completed.

Next to the bridge is the Tigh an Truish Inn - the House of the Trousers, referred to locally as the T&T. Following the defeat of the Jacobite Army at Culloden after the 1745 Jacobite Risings, and Bonnie Prince Charlie's subsequent flight from Scotland, the Government banned the use of the Gaelic language, the kilt, and the wearing of tartan by proscription under the Dress Act of 1746. The inn earned its name after its use by islanders from Seil, and neighbouring Easdale Island, as a convenient location to change to and from their traditional garb and into trousers, or trews (obviously not Tartan Trews!), when travelling to the mainland.

Around May of each year, the bridge takes on a purple appearance, as the flower of the rare Fairy Foxglove (Erinus Alpinus) covers much of its surface.

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