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History Of The Honeymoon Bridge

by Jamie G MacTavish March 2010

            The bridge over the river Croe, three miles from Arrochar, on the A83, Inveraray Road, is known as “The Honeymoon Bridge,” and the nearby car park has a Aerial view of the Honeymoon Bridge on the A83 near ArrocharForestry Commission sign showing it as “The Honeymoon Bridge” car park. The story behind this name is fast fading from living memory.

            On a winter’s day in January 1950, 12 year old forester’s son William Rose, of Craigneuk Cottage, Ardgartan, found a woman’s body at the shore of Loch Long, near the mouth of the river Croe. He got help from Mr. Elias Grant, warden at the nearby Ardgarten Youth Hostel. And together they recovered the body. The date was Sunday 8th January. This was how the mystery started to unravel.

            Mr. and Mrs. Andrew B. S. Donaldson, of 108 Attlee Avenue, Clydebank, had left, the home they shared with Mr. & Mrs. McCann, Mrs. Donaldson’s parents, on Christmas Day, they had suggested they were going for a drive, maybe to see Mr. Donaldson’s parents in Renfrew. They never arrived in Renfrew, but just disappeared.

            So when William Rose, found the body it was immediately suspected this could be 23 year old Hannah Donaldson, the body was taken to Lochgoilhead, where it was identified as Mrs. Donaldson, and an examination was performed by Dr. William Birnie of Tarbet, it showed injuries to the head and legs, consistent with buffeting on rocks or in a car accident, it was thought her body had been in water for five days. Her body was then taken to Dunoon for a full post mortem performed by Dr. Allison of Glasgow, assisted by Dr. James Smart of Dunoon.

            The following morning, Monday 9th January, a thorough search of the river Croe, meant two newspaper representatives found a sun-visor, part of the roof, a luggage grid, a bumper, a side window and a wheel. That afternoon the car itself was located in a 20 foot deep pothole, using steel hooks. On the Tuesday morning police and members of Argyll county council recovered from the same pool, the rest of the roof, the rear part of the car, the back seat with cushion and a door. It was still believed by police at this stage that Mr. Donaldson’s body may have been pinned in the driver’s seat of the submerged vehicle.

            The Lochgoilhead policeman, Archibald MacDonald, was the local policeman covering the search as he was relieving the Arrochar policeman at the time. The case got so big that superintendent John MacCalman (Deputy Chief Constable of Argyll), was sent to take over the case.

            On the Wednesday, the car was raised a little off the bottom with grappling hooks. Then council road foreman James Munro was lowered down with a safety rope tied round his waist, to attach two heavy wire hawsers round the chassis. On a signal from County road engineer George Smith, two heavy lorries took the strain and pulled the wreck up from the pool.


            The car was examined, with no sign of a body or of clothes, closer examination showed that it was in second gear, the clock had stopped at 4.15 and the speedometer at 40 m.p.h..

            After finding and handing to police a blue-grey tweed coat, that he had found in the river on the Tuesday, 23 year old railway fireman Walter McCrae of Glen Croe, went back before work on the Thursday and carried on searching, he then found Andrew Donaldson’s body trapped in the roots of a tree, one and a half miles from the wreck of the car, he was only wearing a blue shirt and trousers. His body and overcoat had been about 300 yards apart.

            This was meant to be part of a “Second Honeymoon,” as Mr. Donaldson who was 26 at the time of the accident, had sailed four years earlier to work for the Chinese Navigation Company, less than a fortnight into his marriage. Mrs. Donaldson had remained in Clydebank, living with her parents and working as a machinist in the Singer factory, he had only returned in September.

            Worries had grown when he had not been in touch with family, or a friend who was meant to meet him in Glasgow for a meal and a show. Mrs. McCann, was concerned when mail for Mr. Donaldson, built up including a passport, and air ticket, it was for a flight from London Airport to Singapore, on the morning of Monday 9th, this was to take up an appointment in a Malayan tin mine.

            The car was a Standard Vanguard, hired for touring about together; it was reported to the police when it was five days overdue. It turned out that a council roadman had found a wooden parapet near the bridge, damaged, and repaired it on Boxing Day.

            The road had been extremely wet, with pounding rain the day of the accident; the weather was still wet & windy with driving sleet, during the search and recovery of the vehicle. Mr. Donaldson was a marine engineer.



            On Saturday 14th, a navy truck crashed into the river Croe, just 400 yards downstream from the spot where the car landed. The occupants A.B. Thomas Taylor (26) and Sub Lieutenant Alan Johnstone (43) were returning from Skipness, Kintyre to Queensferry, when they crashed. Johnstone held on to the truck, Taylor was thrown out and carried away by the strong current.

            They were both taken to the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Taylor was detained with two broken ribs, Johnstone was able to leave hospital on the Sunday, and went back to the scene to help men from Arrochar’s Torpedo Range to recover the lorry, using a heavy lorry. A number of fuses were missing and were being searched for by police and naval authorities.


I have been fascinated by this tale, all my life, my thanks must go to Mr Ian Rowatt of Ardrishaig, who shared all the newspaper articles he could find, with me. These include:-

  • The Glasgow Herald 9th – 13th 1950

  • Evening Times 9th – 12th 1950

  • The Oban Times 14th and 21st 1950

  • The Glasgow Herald 16th January 1950 for The Navy Truck Crash

  • Loch Goil A Slice out of Paradise: Page 72     ISBN 0-9540825-1-6



If anyone has other information or photographs connected to this incident I would love to hear from you - please email me at