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Report - The Menai Strait Set – Apr 2011

Discussion in 'High Stuff' started by sho, May 11, 2011.

  1. sho

    sho 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    The Britannia and Menai Bridges – Wales/Anglesey – April 2011

    This was a bit of an unexpected affair. The Britannia Bridge was well explored last year and id wanted to check it out for while. I'd randomly embarked on a last minute trip to Anglesey with friends. I didn't really have the bridges in mind at the time but once on the island though I found myself thirsting for the usual fix. I got thinking about the Menai Bridge again too and the thought of scaling its sumptuous cables. So I set my self a 24 hour challenge..

    Britannia Bridge

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    History

    The opening of the Menai Bridge in 1826, to the east of where Britannia Bridge was later built, provided the first fixed road link between Anglesey and the mainland. The increasing popularity of rail travel necessitated a second bridge to provide a direct rail link between London and the port of Holyhead. Other railway schemes were proposed, including one in 1838 to cross Thomas Telford's existing Menai Bridge. Railway pioneer George Stephenson was invited to comment on this proposal but stated his concern about re-using the suspension bridge. By 1840, a Treasury committee decided broadly in favour of Stephenson's proposals with final consent to the route given in 1845. Stephenson's son Robert was appointed as chief engineer.

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    During the evening of 23 May 1970 the bridge was greatly damaged by fire. The new design was for an arched bridge. Concrete supports were built under the approach spans and steel archways constructed under the long spans either side of the central Britannia Tower. The bridge reopened to rail traffic on 30 January 1972. Over subsequent months the original box tubes were removed and the stonework of the towers was restored. In 1980, almost 10 years after the fire, the upper road level opened which carried a single-carriageway section of the A55 road. This hides the four large limestone lions.

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    The first visit to the Britannia Bridge was with a group of friends. This bridge contains much epic which you would never think existed driving over it. The condition is brilliant with stunning white girders and it’s impossible to deny the beauty of its settings. I considered climbing one of the arches from the base but was unprepared hadn’t brought any gear so I returned later and took the the easy access to the gantries.

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    Goldeneye

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    For a bridge of this scale this has to be as relaxed as it gets and there’s something pretty immense about it, standing hundreds of feet above the water. It’s a pretty unique place and the rays were perfect. It was nice and peaceful too. I would definitely come back here again even if it’s just to lie about in the sun and take more photos. Time restraints got the best of me.

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    Got to be the best view of the strait you can get, highly recommended

    One down one to go..


    Menai Bridge

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    History

    Before the bridge was completed in 1826, the island had no fixed connection to the mainland and all movements to and from Anglesey were by ferry or on foot at low tide. The main source of income on Anglesey came from the sale of cattle, and in order to get them to the markets of the inland counties or London, they had to be driven into the water and swum across the Menai Straits. Thomas Telford was assigned the task of improving the route from London to Holyhead, and one of the key improvements was his design of the suspension bridge over the Menai Strait between a point near Bangor on the mainland and the village of Porthaethwy on Anglesey. The design of the bridge had to allow for Royal Navy sailing ships 100 feet tall to pass under the deck at high water slack tide.

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    Construction of the bridge began in 1819 with the towers on either side of the strait. Then came the sixteen huge chain cables, each made of 935 iron bars that support the 577 ft span. To avoid rusting between manufacture and use, the iron was soaked in linseed oil and later painted. The suspending power of the chains was calculated at 2,016 tons and the total weight of each chain was 121 tons. The bridge was opened on 30 January 1826 and reduced the journey time from London to Holyhead by 9 hours.

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    This was really what I came for. I headed out in the early hours and walked the road deck to assess the traffic flow and look for the best route. It was pretty quiet but still quite unnerving. In the end I just went for it, biting my lip and jumped on.

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    This was about trying to balance speed with a safe technique. As the cables steepened vertigo sets in, I dropped and crawled the last few meters. What a rush! It felt a lot higher than it initially looked.

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    Once atop the main cable stays everything was peaceful again. Up here you can appreciate the full height of the bridge looking down to the water. It really towers over the Strait.

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    I had intended to limit my time up here but it felt alright and I stuck around for while in the end, it was dark enough up here and traffic was passing below without any issues. I’ve always had love for the Menai Bridge since coming to Anglesey when I was younger. Standing up here at what felt like the highest point around was pretty amazing. The peace was broken when I remembered I had to get back down again.

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    Was good to complete the set even though I know I could have got more pictures.
    It was so great to get this close with two such groundbreaking and famous pieces of history.

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    Cheers. Sho :thumb
     

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