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Dry stone wallers build new bridge

[Thursday 12 August 2010]
New lease of life for Yorkshire Dales ‘green lane’

A dry-stone bridge created as a display at a spring event will be relocated in Wensleydale.

Members of the Otley & Yorkshire Dales branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association built the arched bridge to demonstrate their skills to visitors at the Dales Festival of Food and Drink in Leyburn.

And they have decided to donate it to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and rebuild it over Eller Beck at Ballowfield, between Carperby and Woodhall.

The Wensleydale branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is funding the project costing £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 are very grateful to the Association members for their fantastic gift and to the CPRE for providing the funding,” he said.

“It will be welcomed by all the walkers who use the route.

“At the moment the beck is crossed on a clapper bridge – a series of stones in the water with stone slabs across the top of them.

“Unfortunately it often gets submerged in times of heavy rain, which makes it dangerous to use, and it also causes the river water to back up and flood the nearby car park.”

Association spokesman John Heslegrave said he and a group of other members went on a bridge building master class before starting work on their showpiece for the Leyburn festival.

“It isn’t often that there’s a demand for a dry stone bridge these days so we were very pleased to create the opportunity to re-learn such ancient skills,” he said.

“It’s a good combination of people who want to do it and the National Park having a site where it would be useful.

“Eleven members have volunteered and we will be taking care with every stone to make sure it’s done correctly so it will stay up for a long time.”

Kristin Whalley, the 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.”

Work will begin on August 10 and should be finished within about two weeks, weather permitting. It will also be filmed by Shiver Productions for the new ITV series The Dales, which will be screened next year.

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