Craig-Elachie Bridge over the Spey
This beautiful structure is now completed, and open for passengers. Whether contemplated as an object of great national and local utility, or as a noble monument of art, it is alike the astonishment of all who have beheld it. The picturesque beauty of the surrounding scenery is unrivalled: - Here, the river winds in all its majesty, through a charming valley bounded by precipitous mountains, covered with pine.
The stream dashes against a projecting point of the stupendous rock of lower Craig-Elachie, where the magnificent iron arch, of 150 feet, expands across the river, the arch is protected on the flanks of each of the abutments, by four castellated turrets, 50 feet in height.
The approach to the Bridge from the south descends from the higher grounds by an easy serpentine sweep, so conducted as to command a grand view of the Bridge and turrets and to vary the prospective at every step the traveller advances. In proceeding along the Bridge, the passenger seems entering a frightful cavern, excavated in the rock to the depth of upwards of 100 feet perpendicular, from which there is no apparent outlet; but no sooner does he turn the turret defending the cliff than he finds himself extricated from this Labyrinth by a smooth and spacious passage, and secure parapet, cut along the base of the rock, skirting a plantation of majestic trees, through openings of which is seen in distant perspective, the beautiful seat of Mr. McDowall Grant of Arndilly, with the rich profusion of woods surrounding it, until the road bursts from the forest into the delightful valley of Rothes.
The original design, and the execution of the work in all its parts, reflect the highest on Mr Telford, as an engineer, and on Messers Simpson and Cargill, the contractors, as well for its strength, elegance, and beauty, as for the extraordinary celerity in completing it . The foundations of the bridge were laid in April last, but owing to the floods in the river, little could be done till the month of June, so that in a period of less than six months, every difficulty has been overcome by the persevering assiduity of Mr Simpson, and the whole completed in the most masterly style.This is the more creditable to that Gentleman, when it is considered that excavating the rock was a task of the most Herculean labour , and enormous expence, and that the contractors were allowed to the first November, 1815, for the completion of the Bridge.
The only circumstance to be regretted, connected with this great undertaking is, that some of the more distant approaches stand in great need of amelioration , this has been represented to the Commissioners of Highland Roads and Bridges, and sanquine hopes are entertained that by their assistance, Colonel Grant of Grant, and other Noblemen and Gentlemen who have projected and so liberally contributed to the Bridge, will be enabled to improve these approaches in such a manner as to render the great line of communication now opened, extensively and permanently useful to the Kingdom at large.