The White Bridge and General Wade’s Military Road

I never thought I’d be the type to geek out over a bridge. Or old military transit roads. Good gracious. Who AM I?! Someone, please send help.

While heading southwest one morning on the B862, Mr. C and I came upon this interesting bridge over the River Fechlin in the tiny community of Whitebridge, Scotland.

The White Bridge over the River Fechlin in Scotland.

Intrigued, we parked our car and, with cameras in hand, crossed the road to get a better look.

The White Bridge in Scotland.

Also referred to as Wade Bridge, we learned that The White Bridge is an excellent example of a humped-back, single-span bridge dating back to 1732. It was engineered by a gentleman named Major William Caulfeild, who served as Roads Inspector under General George Wade.

Of course, being the geek that I am, I had to look into this further, especially after we found ourselves on another stretch of Wade’s Military Road near Newtonmore.

The White Bridge in Scotland.
The White Bridge, a humped-back, single-span bridge.

Here are some things I discovered. After the Jacobite rising of 1715 (in which the 6th Earl of Mar raised the Jacobite clans in an attempt to restore the Crown to the House of Stuart), King George I of England felt it necessary to take precautionary measures against the possibility of further Highland insurrection. To accomplish this, the King sent General George Wade to Scotland to investigate the best way to solve the Highland “problem.”

A portrait of General George Wade.

General George Wade

General Wade suggested that the only real way to maintain order in that part of the country was to construct a series of fortified barracks, linked together with a network of well-maintained roads. The roads would allow troops to move quickly across Scotland’s wild terrain should it become necessary to subdue any unruly behavior by the Highlanders. It was an extremely challenging endeavor for Wade and his men, but the result under Wade’s direction was some 250 miles of road and some 40 bridges.

The White Bridge in Scotland.
Ruthven Barracks in Scotland.
The ruins of Ruthven Barracks near Kingussie, one of the forts/barracks constructed along Wade’s Military Road. It was completed in 1721.

Eventually, General Wade passed the torch to Major William Caulfeild. And although General Wade’s name is the more famous of the two, Caulfeild is the one who oversaw the building of over eight-hundred additional miles of road and hundreds of more bridges, including The White Bridge you see featured today.

River Fechlin in Scotland.
River Fechlin
Bridge wall with a purple flower and the River Fechlin.

Does anyone else out there get excited about things like this? I suppose on any given day, the majority of people drive past The White Bridge without offering a second glance. At one time, I may have done the same. But in the course of my Scottish adventures, I have come to learn that a building is rarely just a building, a bridge is rarely just a bridge, and sometimes an ordinary road can lead you to extraordinary places.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. See you soon.


15 thoughts on “The White Bridge and General Wade’s Military Road

  • I’m with you on this. I love finding things like this and looking up the information later. The pictures are great and made me think we were back in the 18th century. You are so right, a building is rarely just a building and a bridge is rarely just a bridge. I always touch the stones or bricks and think of all the people who had touched it before and how it affected others in the past. May we always take that ordinary road and discover those extraordinary places. Watch for my post on Roman things I found in Tarragona recently. This was in no way boring!!

    • I do the exact same thing, placing my hands on the stones or bricks and imagining those who came before. Especially when I visit castles and kirks, I try to imagine the secret conversations that took place, the prayers that were offered up, a stolen kiss between lovers, the laughter of children as they played. The imagination brings the ruin to life. I will look for your post! πŸ™‚

      • I can perfectly understand you. I was about the same excited, when I saw Stirling Bridge where William Wallis succeded against the English.
        XOXO Reni

    • Thanks so much, Cristine. No we didn’t see the museum, although we were told about it by the owner of the cabin we rented. We’re going back to Scotland next year so we may try to see it then.

  • Thank you for the resource, Andy. I don’t know why maps fascinate me. New, old, it doesn’t matter. A few years ago I purchased three antique maps from the Old Town Book Shop. I don’t have any reason to disbelieve that they are truly antiques. One is from around 1750. If they are genuine, they are remarkable.

  • Great share. I love old bridges and in general, the history of structures. Very well researched and explained. A beautiful piece of writing. Thank you for an enjoyable read. Great photos!

  • Thank you Wendy. I’m going to be near the Whitebridge Hotel in August, and looking forward to checking this bridge out. Thank you for the history.

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