On Saturday I drove up to Melrose in the borders. It is quite a long journey, but made longer as I kept slowing down to look at the beautiful landscape and places of interest along the way. I noted a number of sites I wanted to explore on the way back.
Just a few yards from the road is Old Ancrum Bridge - it spans the River Teviot close to Jedburgh. Perhaps it was the old packhorse route, now by-passed by a wider, faster road and new bridge.
It is a beautiful stone construction of 1782, from the local red sandstone. I walked over it and stood watching the river. There are little pull-in shapes about half way along, with small 'windows' showing beautiful views up, or down, river. These refuges are formed by the shape of the pillars of the bridge, where the cutwaters are carried up to create a small angular bay which is wider than the roadway. Little places where those on foot could escape the rush of horses and carriages. At each end the bridge has handsome spires, great stone cones welcoming you across. The river beneath flows fast and deep, slapping and gurgling on its journey. I thought of the power of the water, and the steadfast, solid strength of the stone bridge.
Just a short distance ahead was the impressive Jedburgh Abbey, founded in 1138 and a frequent target for invading border armies. The Autumn colours and golden sunlight cast the ruins in spectacular relief - many strong stone arches and a stunning rose window. Ornate stone carving reaching to the sky and decorating every block and face in grand architectural harmony. I need to go back.
I had also seen a circle of stones, in the middle of a field - rather henge looking, but not huge. It was too dark by the time I got back to the spot, and I couldn't find them - cars behind flashing lights and beeping in frustration! It will have to wait for another trip - or if you have seen them or know what they are, please let me know - off the A68 somewhere south of Jedburgh!?
Perhaps I don't need a concise road atlas of Britain, but a Britain by beautiful stone structures and objects atlas.