Britain’s best bridges: 7 of the UK’s most brilliant bridges to visit

They’re functional but can also be iconic and awe-inspiring. Take a look at seven of the most brilliant bridges in the UK.

We drive over them, take trains through them and journey under their shadows every day, and even the most bog standard bridge is a miracle of engineering, rendering travel and trade possible.

Many though are worth more than a backwards glance while en route somewhere else. Next time, stop and take a look at these.

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Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol

Now in its 152nd year, the Clifton Suspension Bridge is still bringing in the crowds. Perched above the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, this 414m long toll bridge offers much more than a mere route from Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in Somerset. Drive through it in the dark and you can see the Avon glistening beneath you, lit up by 3072 bulbs.

Walk across – making use of the bridge’s app or joining one of the regular tours - and see the resident peregrine falcons circling above. For a real sense of the scale of the Grade I listed bridge, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, with help from Sarah Guppy - and completed by Sir John Hawkshaw and William Henry - is the well trodden Avon Trail, frequented by cyclists, runners and those taking a more leisurely stroll.

The Tees Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough

So impressive is the longest working transporter bridge in the world, that the Tranny, as its known locally, garnered a mention in local lad Jeff Stelling’s lively defence of Middlesbrough in his infamous rant on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday.

Built in 1911 and spanning 259m, the Transporter was originally erected to ferry workers between the factories and foundries in Middlesbrough and Port Clarence. After a substantial lick and polish in 2013, the grade II listed structure now has a glass viewing lift and a visitor centre.

Forth Bridge, Queensferry

Britain’s first all-steel bridge is a stunner. Weighing 53,000 tonnes and spanning 521m, the red oxide-hued Forth rail bridge is used by 200 trains every day and takes passengers over the Firth of Forth, nine miles west of Edinburgh in South Queensferry.

In operation since 1890 and recently awarded UNESCO status, enjoy the majesty of the engineering feat – and the neighbouring Forth Road Bridge and the newer Queensferry Crossing - by hopping on board a boat service.


Glenfinnan Viaduct, Inverness Shire

Throughout the summer, steam trains chug along this beautiful viaduct giving passengers a peerless view of the Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel, from 100ft above the ground.

Given the train journey doubled as the route to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, you may find yourself joined by mini witches and wizards.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wrexham

A World Heritage site built and created by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has been in service since 1805. 100ft above the River Dee on the Welsh-English border, the 19 pillars offer a cracking view of the surrounding area and a picture postcard route for vessels making their way along the Llangollen Canal.

Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire

Buffeted by a pretty valley, Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire is a reminder of Britain’s role in the industrial revolution. But far from being flanked with factories and industry, nowadays the area is resplendent with flowers and wildlife and the bridge itself is a World Heritage Site.

Bridleways and footpaths showcase the gorgeous countryside surrounding the structure, which was the world’s first cast iron bridge when it was erected over the River Severn in 1779.

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Carrick-a-Rede, Antrim 

This one is for the steely stomached. Connect to the mainland from the former salmon fishery at Carrick-a-Rede Island by taking a deep breath and edging your way across the now famous swinging rope bridge, first erected in 1755.

On the walkway at 100ft above sea level, spot bird colonies including kittiwakes, guillemots, fulmars and razorbills, and possibly porpoises, dolphins and basking sharks. Once safely across to Carrick Island, you’ll be treated with views of Rathlin Island, a popular spot for breeding puffins, and on a clear day, even Scotland.

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