Rangers and volunteers have built a new footbridge on the Coast-to-Coast route in Swaledale, replacing a bridge that was swept away in the devastating 2019 summer floods.
The sturdy new crossing at Cringley Bottom is fit for walkers, cyclists and horse riders and has been built with the help of a donation from the Swaledale Outdoor Club. The club runs an annual marathon which passes through Cringley Bottom in Bleabury Ghyll near the Surrender Smelt Mill.
Swaledale Outdoor Club treasurer Tim Blenkin presented a cheque of nearly £7,000 to Area Ranger Michael Briggs just as the finishing touches were being made to the new bridge.
The bridge was a bespoke design by Hartlington Fencing of Skipton. A team of three – an access ranger, an apprentice access ranger and a Dales Volunteer – took four weeks to transport all the materials to site over moorland, construct stone faced abutments and put the bridge together.
Mr Blenkin said: “It’s a substantial new bridge and we hope it will be able to withstand the next serious flooding event. 2020 was to be our 41st marathon but it had to be cancelled. We asked entrants to make a voluntary donation to the flood repair work in the dale and this has raised £1,940.50. Also in recognition of the benefits Swaledale Outdoor Club gains from using public rights of way maintained by the rangers, the club committee, fully backed by the members, agreed to donate a further £5,000 to this vital work.”
Mr Briggs added: “The coast-to-coast is a very important and popular route. It is how many people see the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Businesses have grown up along the route offering hospitality to those passing through. Making the coast-to-coast a National Trail is an objective of the National Park Management Plan, so we are keen to invest time and effort into the route to keep it looking well and easy to use. It’s also nice to make good one more path which was damaged in the terrible floods of last year. I’d like to thank the Swaledale Outdoor Club and other generous donors, as well as the landowner who assisted us with access to the site.”
The National Park Authority also received a £2000 donation from the Wensleydale Society; £100 from Cambridge Ramblers’; £50 from Overton House; £40 from the Two Dales Gardening Club; and £62 from a collection tin in Hudson House in Reeth.