Thursday, 16 June 2011

Tees Valley Viaduct

When I was a youngster I used to haunt 'Barney' Woods and I today I love to walk up the left bank to Cotherstone when I have the opportunity. You can still find the two abutments of the Tees Viaduct about a half mile upstream from the castle. But sadly this beautiful view, which I came across this week in a collection of photographs forwarded to me by Mark Keefe, has long since vanished.

Back in the 1950's any walk up the Tees on a sunny summer evening would be punctuated at some stage by the sound of locomotive whistles and that distinctive rumble of a loose-coupled train of hoppers clattering over the high girders.  Depending on where you were you might just catch a glance of the train high above the trees. The viaduct was an exquisite piece of engineering, built on a 'skew' at an angle of about 30 degrees to the banks. Those ashlar sandstone pillars were amazing pieces of complex masonry, the kind of craftsmanship that these days can only be seen in the work of the specialists who look after the fabric of medieval cathedrals.

And there was something quite special about this location too - the Tees flowing deep and fast under the forest. Always a rather sinister river to me, that dark peat stained water. As kids we were ever warned about the danger of 'rolls' after heavy rain.

But you can still get some feel of the grandeur of Tees Valley Viaduct because the abutments are still there in the woods if you go and take a look. Well worth the trip!

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