Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A series of three

Sketches developed from photos after a walk along the bank of the river Tyne
We spent last weekend in Corbridge, Northumberland on a family visit. This area of the country is used to extreme weather conditions particularly at this time of year. However, while the south-west of the country was drowning under vast quantities of water, this part of the north-east was enjoying an early, if rather chilly, spring.

We had the time to relish a muddy walk along the banks of the river Tyne and observe huge numbers of snowdrops which, because they tend to grow in woodland, we never get to see where we live in London. We also made friends with a Beagle puppy who was great fun and showed a lot of interest in our picnic lunch much to the embarrassment of his owner.

I had high hopes of sketching outside while we were on our outing but it really was too windy so I took some photos on my camera phone and worked them up in the comfort of a cosy living room. I was trying out a combination of Inktense pencils, watercolour pencils and crayons on watercolour paper and this is the result.

These days Corbridge is a quiet and affluent village just a few miles away from Hexham and close to Hadrian's Wall. It is sited very near the most northern point of the old Roman Empire and during the time of the Roman occupation it was a very important garrison town and its name was Corstopitum. English Heritage maintains the archaeology that has been revealed after numerous digs over many years. We spotted one family on their way to explore the site and since it is off the beaten track they very likely had the place to themselves.

Our walk took us to the bridge at Corbridge. My sketch really doesn't do it justice. The present bridge was built in the 17th century and is made from stone. It is currently undergoing much needed renovation and because of its narrow width it is single carriageway so car traffic has to take turns in crossing it from the north bank to the south bank and vice versa. In 1881 the bridge was widened by three feet so it must have been extremely narrow before that. This bridge was so well built that it was the only bridge over the Tyne that withstood the famous flood of 1771. This bridge replaced a previous one that had been constructed in 1235 and and was described in 1306 as the only bridge between Carlisle and Newcastle. It was also maintained as an important link between England and Scotland. If Scotland chooses independence this September the bridge might become important again!

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