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Dales Volunteers bridge the gap

[Tuesday 26 May 2009]
YDNPA Usha Gap in Swaledale
Dales Volunteers bridge Usha Gap in Swaledale
Photo: YDNPA

YORKSHIRE DALES Volunteers have been doing their bit to preserve an historic footbridge in Swaledale.

A group of five volunteers and some Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority rangers stripped down the damaged arch on Usha Gap Bridge near Thwaite and rebuilt it.

Ian Broadwith, the Authority’s Access Ranger for Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, said: “The bridge is more than 100 years old and the centre had sunk and was in danger of collapse. The Dales Volunteers identified the need to repair it in a survey of the rights of way that they carry out every year.

“It’s a very popular footpath and crosses a little tributary of the River Swale so we put up a temporary timber bridge in September, 2007, to keep the path open.

“We were going to do the repair work last year but the weather was so bad we couldn’t.

”It was quite a complicated job and we bedded the stones in with traditional lime and mortar so that it was in keeping with the age of the bridge.”

The team had to build a wooden support – a former – that fitted underneath the bridge to help them dismantle and then rebuild the arch.

The timber bridge was then taken down and will be reused.

The National Park Authority is responsible for the maintenance of more than 2,000kms of rights of way, including more than 800 bridges crossing streams, becks and rivers, and its Dales Volunteers gave more than 6,000 days of work last year.

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