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New National Park bridge open for business

[Thursday 09 September 2010]

A bridge built by dry stone wallers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is now open for business.

Members of the Otley & Yorkshire Dales branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association built the arched bridge over Eller Beck at Ballowfield, between Carperby and Woodhall in Wensleydale.

The Wensleydale branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) funded the project at a cost of £2,500.

Paul Sheehan, the Authority’s Access Ranger for Lower Wensleydale, suggested the site – which is owned by the YDNPA and is a Local Nature Reserve, a Special Area for Conservation and part of the Ox Close Site of Special Scientific Interest. He obtained the necessary permission from the Environment Agency and Natural England and helped with the groundwork.

“We would like to thank the Association members for their fantastic gift and the CPRE for funding the project,” he said.

“The bridge looks really fantastic and it will be much appreciated by all walkers who use the route.”

Until the bridge was built, the beck was crossed on a clapper bridge – a series of stones in the water with stone slabs across the top of them.

But it often became submerged during heavy rain, which makes it dangerous to use, and caused river water to back up and flood the nearby car park.

The bridge was officially ‘handed over’ by Association member John Heslegrave who said: “We would like to say thanks to the National Park Authority for letting us loose on the site, looking after planning approvals and providing resources for the foundations and general help and encouragement.

“We would also like to say thank you to the CPRE for funding the materials and equipment hire costs and to local suppliers of stone and equipment and particularly, the 14 Association volunteers who have given their time and contributed the equivalent of 90 days.

“We had never built a bridge before this year so there was much to learn – but they have worked extremely well together to leave a lasting result in the Dale.”

Kristin Whalley, the Wensleydale CPRE Chairman, said: “This is an excellent example of the traditional skill of dry stone wall construction being used for a long-standing practical purpose.

“The bridge is on a well-walked footpath through an area rich in wildflowers and grasses in a prominent position alongside the Askrigg-Carperby road.

“Built using reclaimed sandstone and newly-quarried Wensleydale limestone, it will enhance what is already a beautiful Dales landscape.”

The work was filmed by Shiver Productions for the new ITV series The Dales, which will be screened next year.

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