Saturday, 4 July 2009


Its about 220 miles from Albuera to Cuidad Rodrigo, out next overnight stop on the coach tour. The journey took about five hours, a long time to sit on a coach and gaze out of the window. I knew that we were covering the same ground that many Frenchmen had during the peninsular war, but it was hard to imagine it as anything more than a long boring journey.

To break the journey we stopped at the old Roman bridge over the river Tagus at Alcantara. The bridge was of great military important during the Peninsular War, for it was the only one to cross the Tagus river in western Spain. The river is wide at this point and goes through a series of canyons which makes fording very difficult.

The bridge was repaired by the British in 1812 by means of a suspension bridge, which was considered something of a military marvel.

Its interesting that the destruction of the bridge was very unpopular with the local Spanish population. It would of course cause them great trouble, and also it was carried out by a Portuguese force commanded by a British officer. And there was no love lost between the Spanish and the Portuguese.

Jan standing on the approach to the bridge gives a good indication of how difficult it would have been to cross the river Tagus without the bridge. The grey skies give and warm cardigan prove that it can be grey and cold in Spain in October!

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