Top Bridge Crossing

Posted: 24th April 2012 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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It’s funny how some things can be right in front of your nose sometimes, and yet you just don’t see them.  Mrs. Toad and I have probably driven by this place countless times and had no idea it was there.  This story is a prime example of how social media can really bring awareness to local places and events.  At times we are truly amazed at how the internet is a world-wide phenomenon, yet the juiciest tidbits are all centric to your own locale.

Today we’re heading up to Parksville on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada.  This wonderful little city is in the heart of the central island and forms an anchor to our very favorite part of the world.  We come up often to visit the area, and if all goes according to plan one day you will find Mrs. Toad and myself sitting on a deck chair with our flippers up with a nice glass of delicious swamp juice in hand.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Last week while researching some potential shoots, Mrs. Toad came across the Facebook page for the Parksville/Qualicum Beach area.  This was a wonderful find as they post great content there.  One of the things that was in active discussion was the Top Bridge Park just on the outskirts of town.

Saturday was the picture-perfect day for a photo-shoot.  The winter has been long, cold and damp here this year and on Saturday we were greeted with a warm and beaming sun.  We packed our bags and headed for points north.

This is the Top Bridge Crossing.  It is an 81 metre, 3 tower cable suspension bridge that crosses the Englishman River in the Parksville region.  This initial shot really gives the viewer a few great elements to take in and enjoy.  The wonderful shadows that drape the closest portion of the bridge add a touch of drama to the scene, and if you follow the line of the bridge across from left to right, you can see the third tower span just peeking out in the lush forest.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

One of the very best parts of structures like this one is how the surrounding nature is juxtaposed against the steel and cables that make the bridge.  I am forever fascinated by how the engineers and architects find ways to incorporate structures like this with minimal impact on the surroundings.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

You can definitely thank Mrs. Toad for this image.  As I was working on capturing the shots above just on the perimeter of the parking lot for the park, she had gone ahead to scout great compositions.  As I was atop the hill, I could see her waving from this perspective and knew that we had a great photograph in the making.  This shot gives us a wider perspective of the bridge and allows the viewer to gain a sense of the scale here.  This is a fairly large bridge to have embedded deep in the forest like this, and is a wonder to take in and enjoy.  We also really enjoyed the delicate reflection of the bridge in the small water pool near the front-left of the image.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

As we work our way around the bridge, we were presented with this incredible view.  This is the span and point where the bridge actually crosses the Englishman River.  We could see signs of the river running much deeper than it was this day.  Warning signs are posted in many spots discussing the inherent danger in the river and the surrounding tall trees.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Taking brackets for HDR photography on a moving suspension bridge requires the stillness of a resting cricket.  We just loved the shadows and lighting we found at this point on our adventure, as well as the natural leading lines the chain link and towers made.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

You just have to admire the ingenuity that goes into designing a structure like this.  As you walk across the bridge and go over the Englishman River below, you are completely safe and this is directly due to the engineering that goes into creating a bridge like this.  The way the cables are attached to massive cement anchors is rather beautiful in its simplicity.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

At this point in our photo-adventure together, we take a look at some of the beauty and features of the park itself.  This little path leads deep into the forest, and once again we were lucky enough to have the most perfect light that in turn casts the most beautiful natural shadows.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

As we were taking in the nature in the park, we came across this fabulous composition. The tree lying parallel to the bridge structure high above it really drove home the dichotomy of such a scene.  And even with that being said, the bridge is not out-of-place here, at all.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

This was a very difficult photograph to capture properly.  Due to the chain-link side of the bridge, I had to lean over and grab this picture as a hand-held shot.  It was just too interesting not to try, and we’re pretty happy with the results.  If you look closely, you will see several spots in the rock below that have been hollowed out by the water eddying and rocks gently spinning over the course of many years.  As time marches on, they make almost perfect circles right into the hard rock itself.  We also really enjoyed the shadow of the bridge crossing the scene.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

As this adventure comes to a close, we take in a last pair of images taken from the bridge of the Englishman River itself.  The outcropping you see here was a perch for us in one of the shots posted above.  When we got to this point and looked down upon the river to see the piece jutting out like this, we realized we were dangling above the raging river grabbing some of our photographs.  Nature is really something marvelous.

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

Top Bridge Crossing - Parksville, BC, Canada

We close today’s post by looking at the river as it makes its way in a slightly northerly direction.  If you notice on the left, you will see a cave formation that has been made by millennia of water flowing around and eventually through it.  At this point, the river makes a gentle left turn and heads along further up island leaving us yearning for more.

Vancouver Island is a wonderful place, just full of great photography opportunities.  It was a real highlight of our spring so far to find the Facebook page for the area and to interact with everyone there, and to have a chance to come to this just wonderful park and take in the sights.

We really hope you enjoyed coming along with us today, and we really thank you for taking the time to do so.  As always, we encourage all our visitors to leave any comments you may have as we love to hear from everyone.




  1. These are awesome shots Toad! I’d love to take a walk in that forest and see what’s there. Glad you stumbled across this place my friend!

  2. avatar Kaeljia says:

    As much as the new bridge may grant access to the other side of the river, many long term residents do not like it. It’s considered a monstrosity. It takes away from the natural glamour and raw edge of the park. There use to be a bridge that ran just under it many eons ago (The building of this road included the first bridge (completed in 1887) built across the Englishman River canyon. John Hirst jr. promptly opened a hotel called the Sea View in the Englishman’s River area. Joe McCarter opened a hostel known as the Halfway House, in Errington, which served as a stopping place for the horse-drawn stages which made regular trips between Nanaimo and Alberni. On May 1st, the Englishman’s River Post Office was established with Mr. Nelson Parks appointed postmaster. William Rath, an Irishman, came to the area in search of gold. Henry Lee comes to the area in 1886.) source: http://www.parksvillemuseum.ca/Parksville.htm
    My Husband remembers walking across the original bridge as a young boy. I’d have to ask him when it burnt down.
    Our daughter use to jump off the nose that rock face that sticks out all the kids jump off it. The water is not normally this low, even in the summer.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to give us a visit, and for leaving us your wonderful comments here. We love this part of the island, the history is deep and rich and you can literally feel it as you explore the place. Thanks for the historical information, we had no idea about any of that! We really appreciate your visit, thank you.

  3. avatar Mrs. Mudpuppy says:

    What a beautiful little park Toads! Love the suspension bridge, you had a perfect day to capture the light just right! Well done as usual.

  4. Great images Toad (& Mrs Toad) I love the interplay between the man made and natural. Top marks

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so very much, kind sir! We really appreciate all your support here, Chris, it truly means so much!

  5. avatar Rick Louie says:

    What a great bridge. It justs seems to fit into the landscape. I love the shot looking down the bridge. It seems like goes forever!

  6. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Wow all incredible images Toad. What a find. I totally agree with you there are so many places that I’m discovering in the Toronto area that I didn’t even know existed. Sometimes we dream of far away places to photograph when there’s beauty so close by. Wonderful post.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Edith! We’re thrilled to hear you are discovering some local gems to photograph! Thanks so very much for taking the time to swing on by and leave us your fabulous comments here today!

  7. avatar Perry Bailey says:

    Hi Toad,

    Great set as always! I’ve visited before, but this is my first comment (I think). Your work inspires me to search out the interesting, out of the way sites in my area. Keep up the great work!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hey Perry! Thank you SO much for taking the time to leave us some comments, and we really hope you continue to do so when you feel like it! Thanks, my friend. I just popped over to your Flickr site there and I have to say I LOVE your work! You’re in my RSS list now so I can follow you along!

  8. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Another gem of a post Toad. Great find. I often wonder what we would do without the ability to find new places that social media and the internet gives us. The images are wonderful as well as the back story.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so very kindly, Len, it always means so much to us when you have a chance to pop by like this!

  9. avatar Dave DiCello says:

    What a great collection here my friend, I love the light and shadows and of course, great write up!

  10. avatar Eden says:

    Very nice! Great details, especially in the trees 🙂

  11. avatar LensScaper says:

    I’ve seen bridges like this in the European Alps and in the Himalayas, and crossed them. There will always be arguments about structures like these. Personally I don’t find them intrusive. The landscapes in which they are placed are far too strong to be subdued by a bridge like this which has style and graceful curves. Some tremendous photos in this post too, Toad.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Love your comments today, Andy, how thoughtful and profound! Thank you so much for taking the time to pop on by and for leaving us your wonderful thoughts here for everyone to enjoy!

  12. avatar A.Barlow says:

    Beautiful sir. Those circles in the stone are awesome.

  13. We’re so happy to be part of your story in finding this Parksville gem. I think I could live on Vancouver Island my whole life and still not see all there is to see. I’m so grateful too for the world of possibilities social media brings us!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What an honor to have you pop by and leave us your comments today, Sharyn, thank you SO much! We’re thrilled to have found you on Facebook and are absolutely delighted to have you swing by here today!

  14. avatar Adam Allegro says:

    What a sweet, sweet place… This has been added to my Canada wish list. Lovely work buddy.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You would LOVE it, Adam, I am pretty sure! Thank you so much for your ongoing friendship & support ’round these here parts, my friend, it really means an awful lot to us.

  15. A handful of very nice photographs!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you Otto, that means so very much to us here! I see from your address that you appear to be from Norway? I was there many years ago on a business trip and really loved my experience. Beautiful place. At any rate, thanks so very much for taking the time to visit and for leaving us your comments, we really appreciate it!

  16. Crazy bridge and nice find. You did a great job capturing it.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Wow, Scott, thanks! That’s really kind of you! We appreciate you taking the time to swing on by and for leaving us your comments my friend!

  17. avatar dragonflydreams88 says:

    . . . I have been to/through Parksville many times . . . and like you, had never seen this bridge . . . thanx for the interesting insight . . . I will have to make a point of scouting it out this summer!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Check it out, it’s a GREAT place, you’ll love it and come home with a full memory card!! Thank you so much for your kind visit and comments here today, we really appreciate it!

  18. A great find Toad. This would have been one of my first choices to go and shoot. I could literally spend days there and never get everything. You have created a nice set of images with a great story!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks ever so kindly, Mike, you sir are the best friend a Toad could have! We sure do appreciate all your support and encouragement, my friend!

  19. […] “Top Bridge Crossing” by Toad Hollow […]

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      This is quite the honor, thank you for including us in your list Eden, that really means a lot to us!

  20. avatar Jim Nix says:

    what a great group of shots Toad, love this place it looks so awesome!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Jim, we had a blast doing up this shoot, that’s for sure! Really appreciate your visit and kind comments today, my friend!

  21. avatar ehpem says:

    I really must visit this bridge sometime, not sure why I never have.
    I bet you had to sit still for quite a while to get the bounce out of the bridge for the brackets taken from the bridge deck. Those things are never still.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Nice bit of detective work there, my friend! We were really lucky to not be there on a windy day, but even with that being said I had to stand there still for quite a while and wait for no pedestrians. It was a long-term plan!! 🙂 You are absolutely correct with your thoughts, as always! Thanks so much for your visit and most wonderful comments, my friend!

  22. avatar Astaroth says:

    Very beautiful natural landscapes :)!, and very awesome that piece of engineering in middle of the nature. I would like to visit a place like that :D!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much, my good friend, we really appreciate you taking the time to come and see us, and for leaving us your awesome comments here! If ever you come to Canada, you have a standing invitation and we’ll take you around and show you the sights!