The Connel Bridge, or Connel Ferry Bridge was completed in 1903 for the Caledonian Railway, and lies about 6 miles north east of Oban on the A828, north of the A85.
The bridge features a number of interesting points. Although it was built as a single track railway bridge, it also carried a single track road, which allowed both forms of transport to utilise its span to cross the narrows between Loch Etive and the Firth of Lorne. In the early years, motor vehicles were not permitted to be driven across the bridge, and had to be loaded onto special carriages to make the crossing, but from 1912 it was possible for vehicles to use the road, as a toll service, at times when the trains were not using the bridge. This mode of operation continued until 1966, when the line was closed. With the rail service removed, the single track road was widened, but still operates as a one-way service controlled by traffic lights due to width restrictions, with the remaining space devoted to pedestrians and cyclists.
Manually controlled from a signal box, the original crossing carried a sign: "WARNING. ONE WAY TRAFFIC. DO NOT MOVE WHEN GATE IS OPENED UNTIL SIGN CHANGES FROM "STOP" TO "COME ON". RING BELL AND WAIT."
When completed, the single span structure was the second largest clear span in Europe, creating a steel cantilever bridge with a main span of some 500 feet (152.5 m), passing some 50 feet above the water. While the design pre-dates 1900, the appearance of the bridge is that of a much later item.
Falls of Lora
The Falls of Lora are created on the ebb tide, when the tidal waters in the Firth of Lorn fall below the water level of Loch Etive. The difference results in the flow which pours through the narrows spanned by the Connel Bridge.
The feature results from an underlying ridge of rock in the area beneath the bridge, this means that the effect occurs in both directions, but the flood tide is the lesser of the two when observed.
Annual and seasonal variations mean that the tidal range can vary from less than one metre to over four metres, therefore the relevant tidal charts should be consulted if making a specific trip to see them, or there may be little to be seen.
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