Work starts to replace Yorkshire Dales bridge

A replacement for a bridge in the Yorkshire Dales national park that was swept away by flood water should be opened to walkers by the end of the month.

The structure at Birks Mill outside Sedbergh took the full force of Storm Desmond and was demolished last December.

The new version of the 33m-span bridge is being supplied by Cumbria County Council and will be assembled by Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority rangers.

The work is likely to last two to three weeks, depending on the weather, and it should be open for business by the end of November, according to authority area ranger Paul Wilkinson.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The bridge was important for a number of circular walks around the town, and the Dales Way passes the western end of it.

“Its disappearance means that people wanting to cross the River Rawthey between Birks and Catholes are forced to take a 2km detour via Millthrop.

“The authority has been working with a number of partners to plan the replacement and the work started at the weekend.”

Financial support has come from the county council, the national park authority, Sedbergh Parish Council, Friends of the Lake District, HF Holidays Pathways Fund, the Ramblers and the Dales Way Association.

Nick Cotton, the national park authority’s member champion for recreation management, said: “The national park has more than 2,600km of public rights of way, including almost 900 bridges, which means there is a lot of maintenance work involved to keep the network in tip top condition for all the walkers, cyclists and horse riders who use it.

“We are always grateful for any help we can get – in terms of finance, materials or volunteer workers – from individuals, businesses or other partnership organisation to do the work.

“Without them it would be virtually impossible.”