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      June 2011 > Bridging that gap
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Bridging that gap

Bridges have been a part of human existence for millennia, from rough-hewn logs laid across streams by our prehistoric ancestors to the 21st-century Qingdao Haiwan Bridge in China, currently the world’s longest bridge at 26.4 miles. Whenever you travel, whether by rail, car, bike or on foot, you will probably cross at least one bridge every day and yet not give it a second thought. 

Road bridges near Fredvang, Lofotens, Norway

Bridges aid passage on all our holidays and make it possible to explore remote regions, discovering quiet, out-of-the-way places that would otherwise be impossible to reach. Linking the islands of Norway’s Lofoten archipelago are a series of modern road bridges (above) that allow easy access between the many small communities that had previously been connected only by boat. It is now possible to take a fascinating Journey to Å, the most southerly village, without getting your feet wet!

Log bridge, Lofoten Islands, NorwayOn the way, take a walk along the wild coast from the fishing village of Napp to discover huge boulders where sea eagles sit in isolated splendour, watching for shoals of cod and herring disturbing the water’s surface as whales swim serenely through the Sound. The path meanders along the coast beneath towering cliffs, crossing a simple log bridge over a crystal clear river that flows the short distance from a small lake, enclosed almost entirely by mountains, to the sea. This is Sørdalsvatnet, (right) and to be here amid such dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery is an immense privilege.

There are many world-famous bridges that need no introduction: Tower Bridge in London, Brooklyn Bridge in New York, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bosphorus Bridge that links Europe with Asia. And yet, however iconic these may be, it is often the smaller, unexpected bridge that one comes upon while exploring a place for the first time that can delight the eye much more.

Multi-arch packhorse bridge near La Brigue, FranceHead into the mountain villages on the border between France and Italy, and embark upon an exhilarating walk from the Alps to the Mediterranean. Inviting paths lead over spectacular multi-arched packhorse bridges as you walk from one quiet valley to the next to reach isolated chapels containing remarkable frescoed walls. These bridges were not built for tourists but are often centuries-old, constructed to allow local communities to sell their excess goods in larger markets. Such stone-built bridges exist all across Europe and appear on many of our holidays where walks follow traditional muleteers’ routes through the hills.

It was deep in the Alpes Maritimes last year that I came upon one of the prettiest bridges I’ve seen in a long time. Straddling a small stream of crystal-clear water (below), this very simple structure stands almost hidden beneath the dappled shade of nearby trees. It was too inviting to pass without dipping our toes into the refreshingly cool water and we enjoyed a wonderful leisurely picnic here on the banks. We could have stayed for far longer than we did, but there was more to see on this walk and we were not to be disappointed. Whether it’s a monumental architectural structure or a more modest, vernacular construction, have you a favourite bridge? Tell us where it is; send us a photo - or do you prefer to keep its location a carefully guarded secret?
Crossing the stream near Notres Dames des Fontaines, Alpes Maritimes, France

Posted: 03/06/2011 08:43:49 by Peter Williamson, Inntravel | with 0 comments
Filed under: France, heritage, journey, nature, Norway


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