Friday, 25 September 2015

Instructions to travellers intending to cross a wooden bridge - Coleridge Way

On the Coleridge Way between Aller Farm and Sampford Brett and half a mile south of Williton there is a small wooden bridge with the following notice displayed at both ends:

"To all who tread here

In ancient times it was considered prudent for travellers about to cross a wooden bridge to make an offering to the spirits of the trees, which were cut to provide the timber.

Unless a thief or destitute person has taken it, you will find a small coin on one of the pillars. Please carry it across on an open palm and place it on a pillar on the opposite side, so that the next traveller may use it to cross in safety.

If all the coins have been taken you may wish to leave a small token to aid those who come after you.

May you travel tranquilly and arrive restored."

I haven't been able to find any trace of this ancient custom elsewhere, so don't know if the builders of the bridge put it there as a bit of fun.  Either way I have crossed over the bridge many times since I first walked the Coleridge Way in 2006 and there have always been coins on the pillars at either end of the bridge.  I'm not entirely sure what the bridge was built to cross over - there may be a very small stream underneath or maybe just a bit of boggy ground.  I will have a better look next time I am there.

 Approaching the bridge from Aller Farm

 A West Somerset Rambler crossing the bridge and disobeying the instructions!

 Approaching the bridge from Sampford Brett

 The notice

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