Monday, 2 July 2012

A Tale of Two Bridges

I am not generally a fan of Sustans' cycle routes. Although dedicated cycle routes are a good idea and work well elsewhere in Europe I find that in the UK the enthusiasm to provide them runs ahead of the ability to do so. This often leads to poorly-surfaced and badly-maintained routes, inconsistant or non-existant signage and  it's usually easy to spot where the money ran out as the route just stops, with no indication as to how one reaches one's destination other than an "End of Route" sign!
But the Bath to Bristol cycle path is different: well-surfaced and signed and part of a joined-up network that it was a pleasure to cycle on to avoid the heavy traffic on the A4 and the Bristol ring road.
We made such good progress that we were able to take lunch at the Aust motorway services that overlook the estuary (or at least if you take the trouble to walk from the car park, they do).
The view from our lunch stop. Amazing to think that some people take narrowboats under this bridge!

Although the bridge is principally a motorway crossing it also  carries a foot and cycle path (this is the "old" bridge, the "new" one has no such facility).

The next section of the ride towards Newport was, frankly, hard work following busy roads until finally picking up a Sustrans route on the outskirts of Newport. Typically, it began in the middle of nowhere and lead to a dead end! The second bridge of the day we intended to cross was the Newport Transporter Bridge. There are very few surviving Transporter Bridges in the world. The UK has two - the other is in Middlesbrough, whilst a third, at Warrington, is still standing but not in use. However, our plans to cross it to get to Newport were thwarted because, despite being on a key cycle route (Route 4 from London to West Wales), it has rather peculiar and very limited opening hours:

As we were there on a Wednesday afternoon, we were clearly unwelcome and would have had to wait until Saturday morning to cross!  For those who don't know what a transporter bridge is it's a sort of suspended ferry, with a platform that shuttles across the river hanging from an overhead gantry. Although somewhat eccentric in concept it is clearly suited to a site where a fixed bridge would obstruct shipping whilst the tidal range is too great to accommodate a ferry. Here are some more photos.

All in all, one of the great curiosities of the transport world.


No Direction said...

I nominate the Sustrans route from Glasgow central station to Dumbarton as the worst one.

Anonymous said...

Scarborough to Whitby is the worst one I've found so far.