Dales Volunteers bridge that gap

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.

A very popular footpath crosses the little tributary of the River Swale so a temporary timber bridge was installed in September, 2007, to keep the path open.

Bridge at Usha Gap - Photos courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Bridge at Usha Gap - Photos courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

The stones have been bedded in with traditional lime and mortar so that it is in keeping with the age of the bridge.

Work on the bridge was scheduled for last year but was delayed as a result of the bad weather

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.

Generally, there are very few Volunteer vacancies but, in the Northern Dales, there may be opportunities for one or two new people with practical skills.

For further information, please contact Rae  Lonsdale on (01756) 751630 or e-mail volunteers@yorkshiredales.org.uk.

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