North west of Aberfeldy the B846 crosses the River Tay and heads west through Weem past Castle Menzies and along the north side of the Appin of Dull before turning north to pass Schiehallion en route to Tummel Bridge.
The bridge by which the road crosses the River Tay is a work of art. Built of stone, it is carried over the river by five segmented arches. Its underlying design is hump-backed, but this is largely concealed by the ornate parapets and the distraction of the four obelisks which flank the ends of the central arch. This is a bridge which was obviously built with no expense spared, and looks for all the world as if it belongs in the landscaped grounds of some major country house.
So it comes as something of a surprise to find it here, carrying a road across a river on the edge of Aberfeldy. It comes as even more of a surprise to find that the bridge was built for essentially military purposes. (Continues below image...)
Aberfeldy's Tay Bridge is also often known as "General Wade's Bridge", and was one of around 40 important bridges built by by General George Wade as part of a network of 250 miles of new roads built across the Highlands in the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite uprising. The aim was to provide much better overland communications between the Highlands and the Lowlands, and ensure that a future Jacobite rebellion was less likely or, if one occurred, that Government troops could move around the country much more easily to suppress it. Ironically, the new roads were initially of most help to Bonnie Prince Charlie during the 1745 Jacobite uprising.
The Tay Bridge was designed by William Adam, father of the rather better known Robert Adam, and built in 1733. The opulence of its design (and the cost of over £4,000) reflects its role as a monument celebrating General Wade's entire project, and this is confirmed by a number of inscriptions and plaques on the bridge.
One of these records that General Wade laid the first stone on 23 April 1733 and finished the work later that same year. This is a slight exaggeration as the parapets and the obelisks were not built until 1734 and the bridge only formally opened in August 1735. It is a testament to the quality of the building that the bridge still carries traffic today, though only in one direction at a time.
Overlooking the river and bridge, and with stunning views north west to the Glen Lyon and Ben Lawers mountains is the Black Watch Memorial. This was erected in 1887 and commemorates the first mustering of the Black Watch as a regular army regiment of the line in May 1740. This event took place on the opposite side of the river, but as that site was prone to flooding, the "nearest practicable site" was chosen, which is where you find the memorial today. It cost £500 and was paid for by public subscription. Repairs and the installation of a lightning conductor in 1910 after it had been badly damaged by lightning cost a further £200.
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Grid Ref: NN 881 493