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Official opening of Fisherman’s Bridge

Fisherman’s Bridge seen from the riverbed

[A] crowd gathered by the upper Lune near Sedbergh on Friday (23 Feb) for the official opening of the new Fisherman’s Bridge – two years after the original was swept away by Storm Desmond.

Fisherman’s Bridge is a vital part of the public rights of way network in the area, as it is the only crossing in an 8 kilometre (5 mile) stretch of the Lune.

A small crowd gathers for the official opening of the new Fisherman’s Bridge

The new bridge cost £110,000, with individuals and local groups donating £12,500 to the project – including WMB Trust; Friends of the Lake District; Yorkshire Dales Society in memory of Ken Willson; John Hatt;  Ramblers Lake District Area, Kendal Group and Lancaster Group; The Dales Way Association; Sedbergh Parish Council; Sedbergh Anglers; Sedbergh Walking and Cycling Group; and Richard and Dorcas Thomas.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) worked in partnership with Cumbria County Council on the rebuild, so it was fitting that the tape was cut by Nick Cotton, who is both a YDNPA member and a Cumbria County Councillor.

In a short speech, he said the 35 metre long bridge – the longest in the Cumbrian part of the National Park – was a year in the planning and took eight weeks to construct.

Nick Cotton delivers a short speech at the official opening of the new Fisherman’s Bridge

“The new bridge was designed with only one pier, to create less obstruction to flow during flood events,” he said.  “Cumbria County Council contractors constructed the stone clad piers and wooden steps.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority constructed the bridge itself.  A total of 22 steel beams, each weighing 130kg, were bolted together to span the river and support a wooden walkway.

“The bridge recreates the link between Firbank and Howgill. It is an important link as it is the only footbridge across the River Lune for miles in each direction, the nearest crossings being road bridges at Lincoln’s Inn on the A684 and the Crook of Lune Bridge to the north along Howgill Lane. In fact it is the only publicly accessible footbridge over the River Lune between Kirkby Lonsdale and Tebay.”

Fisherman’s Bridge near Goodies was built in 1957.  But after Storm Desmond, only the stumps of the four piers on the riverbed remained of the old structure.

The new bridge now carries the Sedbergh Quaker Trail, which was devised by the Sedbergh Area Walking and Cycling Group and supported by the YDNPA’s Sustainable Development Fund.  The trail is described in a leaflet available at the Sedbergh Information Centre on Main Street.

Nick Cotton ended his speech by thanking the owners of the land by the bridge, the Capstick family of Hole House Farm, for their support and encouragement.

A more detailed timeline of the Fisherman’s Bridge reconstruction can be seen here.

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