Loch LoyneLoch Loyne lies in the hills between Glen Garry and Glen Cluanie. Until 1957, it was two small lochs connected by a short stretch of river, but in that year the glen was dammed and flooded to provide Hydro-electric power. As a result, the old route of the A87 was also flooded, and the road re-routed much further to the east out of harms way. For a rather more in depth description of what I have written below, see my article on Sabre.
TomdounThe old road up to Tomdoun is still public highway, as the unclassified route out past Loch Quoich to Kinlich Hourn. However, in Tomdoun is an old road that climbs up in front of the church, and it was up this road that I was headed. Under my feet the road was sprinkled with snow, but every now and then overhanging trees left a clear patch to show up the good condition of the tarmac, fifty-odd years since it was last used by through-traffic. After negotiating a fallen tree and a gate, I had a clear run for the next 2 miles up to the Loch. Along the way, the road continued to be under snow in many places, sometimes to the depth of several inches making any kind of archaeological analysis absolutely impossible. It was quite difficult enough to walk! Eventually, however, Loch Loyne appeared ahead and I could see, below the low mist, that it was frozen over. It suddenly struck me that it might be possible to cross the loch, as traffic used to do so many years ago.
Loch LoyneAs I started the descent to the loch shore, however, and even more exciting prospect hit me. I realised that the water level was low, very low in fact, with the result that the road was out of the water. Yes, really! So, with the Ice heaving and cracking around me, making any thoughts of trying to walk on it seem like suicide, I boldly walked out on the road instead. The first bridge was just poking the top of its arch out of the water, but being a low arch it was easy to cross, little more than a hump, although had the old surface survived it may have been a bit more! And then, I thought I had done it. I was on dry land once more, with trees. However, as I rounded the corner of the road, I saw the second bridge. I stopped and stared, the eerie noise of traffic on the new road a mile or two to the east carried across the ice, and every now and then a large cracking noise would echo on the low mist as the ice moved. It reminded me of the TV dramatisation of Shackleton, and I suspect that many polar explorers would recognise those unearthly noises.
The second bridge crossed a pool of open water - the only water I could see in the loch. I approached with caution, as half of the bridge had collapsed many years ago, leaving only eastern 4 or 5 feet of the arch standing. I was worried that my weight might be too much and it would collapse under me, but the thrill of being able to cross at all was too much for me, and gingerly testing each footstep as I went, I got across. I climbed up, well above the high-water line, and looked back, very pleased! I had already planned to one day venture down the northern arm of this old road from Cluanie, and now when I do so, with a couple more little links to be tidied up, I will be able to say that I have walked or cycled all the way from home to Cluanie, via Loch Loyne!!!
Anyway, enough nonsense, I had to get back again, and taking the same care I made it across to the Island. despite my concerns, the old arch seemed pretty solid underneath, and as the arch stones are each about a foot or more long, it would probably be a lateral force (the flow of water) rather than a vertical force (my weight) that will finally destroy the old bridge. Nevertheless, I would heartily dissaude anyone from following my bad example!