Following the devastating and extreme weather event of the afternoon of 31 July 2019 there was widespread destruction to the Footpaths and Bridleways of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. Bridges were washed away (around 12-15) hillsides slipped across routes and riverbank footpaths were swept away. An unprecedented 16 closures had to be implemented to safeguard the public.
Obviously Covid-19 and the Lockdown has been a major hindrance in getting these works completed but as restrictions have eased and visitors returned we have taken every opportunity we can to make further repairs.
One of the most significant has been to re-establish a river crossing over Bleaberry Beck at Cringley Bottom – a vital section on the Coast to Coast Long Distance Path. At this point the route is a Public Bridleway and for this reason the bridge had to be substantial enough to safely carry horses and riders and the cyclists that may use the route. As you can imagine this can hike the cost up significantly so when the Swaledale Outdoor Club offered to help fund the bridge we were in no position to decline.
Fortunately the Coast to Coast route at this location is also on the route of the annual Swaledale Marathon and the club were keen to see their donation spent where it would benefit their members and marathon runners as well as the walking public on the C2C. As well as a donation from their own funds a voluntary £5 donation from marathon entrants was also ploughed into the project; in total nearly £7000 was given to us by the Swaledale Outdoor Club.
The bridge we have installed was supplied by Hartlington Fencing Supplies in Wharfedale. It consists of five 7 metre long Douglas Fir beams, a 2 metre wide deck and oak rails and posts. This is a substantial bridge without doubt! Due to the location being so difficult to reach all materials had to be transported in small loads by quad bike and trailer and Rangers and volunteers have hand mixed all mortar to cast and construct the stone abutments required to rest the bridge on. This was no mean feat considering it had to be done with one ranger and one volunteer at a time and socially distanced!
In all it took around 4 weeks to complete. Even as we were finishing off, at a time when Lockdown was easing, Coast to Coast walkers started to come through and were very appreciative of the new crossing and when the Swaledale Marathon comes through in 2021 it will make the effort all the more worthwhile.