Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Inaccessible Tongland

A couple of years ago I wandered out to Tongland for a wee look around the power station there and discovered there was a dam a little further up the river. So on Sunday, the weather being fine, I decided I would go and admire the dam.

Tongland is an indistinct kind of village a couple of miles away from Kirkcudbright, a few houses scattered over quite a large area either side of the river with a good dose of industry to keep the house price down - it wouldn't be my first location to volunteer to go and live in. I don't think it has any shops, definitely no pub and you'd be hard put to say that any part of it was a village. It was the birth place of Joe Dobson in 1875 who was one of the founders of Interflora.

Just before you come into Tongland you cross a Bridge built by Thomas Telford in 1806 at a cost of £7710. From the road it looks like this.

But from down below for those determined to have a look it is much better

At 112feet, it has the largest arch span of any masonry bridge in Scotland

A few dozen yards away in a field is the remains of the viaduct that took the railway into Kirkcudbright until it fell foul of Mr Beeching in 1963.

In the same field, just beyond the pile of rocks (also part of the viaduct) is the Carse Moat, an iron age hill fort, though to have been used between 500BC and 500AD.

Attempt 1 to find the dam involved crossing the river (on the 1761 bridge this time) and making for the road end to the dam on the Castle Douglas road). On the way I passed this not particularly attractive building, but it does have an interesting history. As a subsidiary of Arrol-Johnson the Galloway Car was first manufactured here from 1920 till 1923 (after that it moved to Dumfries where manufacture continued until 1928)

It's hard to imagine cars being built outside Kirkcudbright but here's a picture of one.

Alas when I arrived at the road end for the dam and wandered down it I was quickly met with a padlocked iron gate  - the kind with a certain spikiness somewhere above head height. Retracing my steps about a mile to the bridge and another mile up the other side of the river I found another gate of a similar spiky nature. I climbed over a fence and after a small incident with a bit of barbed wire grabbed the following snap - I wasn't prepared to any further down the banking - you may remember an encounter with a cliff a few years ago left me buying a new camera and anyway #3 son had only just broken his wrist the day before and one member of the family in plaster at a time is quite enough. This is the best dam shot I can get (this sentence may or may not be misspelled)

Just to add to the industrial nature of the corner there is a quarry which looked deserted and I was tempted to sneak into but common sense prevailed.

and of course the hydroelectric plant

Many church yards in Scotland have the ruin of an older church in them - Tongland churchyard is no exception, As far as I can work out from the internet, this church was built in the 17th century but the door in the side is part of the earlier Tongland Abbey dating from 1218 which stood on the site - it seems the last abbot here was an Italian alchemist called John Damian (he may never have lived here as the abbey was affiliated to another) who once made an attempt to jump from the ramparts of Stirling Castle and fly in front of James IV.

The main church isn't all that good state either

Trying to get in the door

If you do get past the foyer, it doesn't improve. It seems that at some point the roof has fallen in and just been left where it has fallen. It's been like this for years - you'd think that somebody would at least take away the wreckage from inside rather than wait for an accident to happen.

I tried to get to the far end for a wee look but everything that you stand on bends or cracks in an alarming fashion so I quickly returned outside. They do have a rather lovely stile arrangement built into the churchyard wall.

and a bench to drink my tea from.


Technogran said...

I'm amazed at how you amass all this knowledge as you snap away with your camera! I know next to nothing about any of the buildings I tend to take photos of.
I love the shot of the church with all of the grave stones leaning at haphazard angles to each other.
That shot of the dam looks very precarious!
I visited Stirling Castle a few years back with my eldest son and his family who reside in Alexandria. Scotland is absolutely breathtaking and if I lived there, I would always be out taking photos.

Sandy's witterings said...

Ah Technogran, I have to admit to not having a head full of knowledge - I look a lot of it up when I get back and take photos of information signs (which I recommend to anyone out and about - far more accurate than a notebook). Mind you, some of it sticks, though sometimes only vaguely.
I was a little precariously perched for the shot of the dam.
I've nevr been to Stirling castle - it's definately on the list of places to go.

Rocket Man said...

Don't you just hate it when common sense rears it's ugly head while you're out exploring?

I carry a notebook in my camera bag, take photos of information signs, collect pamphlets where available and research things on the web as well. Then, as you say, some of it actually sticks in the head.

Rachel Hoyt said...

Thanks for taking me out on a scottland day trip. It's so nice to "travel" without causing financial hardship! :o)

Rhyme Me A Smile

Sandy's witterings said...

Oh dear, after photographing information, I just come a cropper from sloppy reading RM.

Thanks Ms Hoyt, and as you see,
my travels are very often free.

The Glebe Blog said...

I'm like you Sandy.I read the information signs later.Isn't the internet great for info.

Now then can you tell me is a Doonhamer technically a resident of the town of Dumfries,or from the original county.Was Thomas Telford a Doonhamer ?

Sandy's witterings said...

Doonhamer apply only to the town of Dumfries so Thomas Telford is our of the running for that title. If being born there gets you in then perhaps I could use it, but it would be a bit of a swizz as I've never actually lived in the town - 6 years only 8 miles away, as well as few in Langholm where old Thomas went to the same school I did (not at the same time)

Linda said...

Thanks for another Thomas Telford bridge! I see it was an earlier build than the Craig bridge. And the rest of the tour was fascinating.

Brian L Dobson said...

Hi Sandy, I came across this by chance and enjoyed reading it. Joe Dobson you refer to at the start was my Great Great Grandfather. I travelled to Tongland in 2007 (passing through on my way to a wedding in Ayr) and I wanted to see if Joe had a headstone in the churchyard. I didn't find it but unfortunately I didn't know then that there was the older ruined churchyard. I'll need to make another trip.