Fisherman’s Bridge on the upper Lune, was destroyed in December 2015 during Storm Desmond, along with Birks Bridge on the Rawthey and a section of footpath, also on the Rawthey, near Brigflatts. As a result, three footpaths needed diverting, including sections of the recently established Sedbergh Quaker Trail. However, as of the beginning of this year, the path network around Sedbergh is entire again.
On Friday the 23rd of February a small crowd watched as Cumbria County Councillor and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Member Nick Cotton cut the tape to officially open the new bridge. He said:-
“Fisherman’s Bridge on the Lune near Goodies had stood for 60 years. A county surveyor’s note stamped 16 July 1957 recorded that it cost £363 7s 10d (£363.39).
After Storm Desmond, only the stumps of the four piers on the riverbed remained of the old structure.
The new bridge cost £110,000, with individuals and local groups donating £12,500 to the project – including WMB Trust, FoLD, Yorkshire Dales Society in memory of John 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 & Dorcas Thomas.
The 35 metre long bridge was a year in the planning and took eight weeks to construct. The new bridge was designed with only one pier, to create less obstruction to flow during flood events. A total of 22 steel beams, each weighing 130kg, were bolted together to span the river and support a wooden walkway.
Cumbria County Council Contractors constructed the stone clad piers and wooden steps. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority constructed the bridge itself.
The bridge was almost lost during a period of heavy rainfall on 22nd November last year when the river level rose in excess of 4 metres. This force of water pressed against the scaffold which was swept away, and bent the bridge sideways and downwards on the longest of the two spans (23m length). Fortunately this remained attached and the scaffold was salvaged. Luckily the project had been insured by the YDNPA.
I should like to pay a special tribute to David Clare who craned the damaged bridge off the piers, repaired it in the adjoining field and then craned it back on to the piers, all within two weeks of the damage being done.
The bridge recreates the link between Firbank (part of the new extension to the YDNP) 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, a distance of over 30km.
Finally, I’d like to thank the Capstick family of Hole House Farm for their support and co-operation in allowing access for our machinery over their land and for allowing us to park our cars and meet up here today.”
The new bridge is on the route of the ”Sedbergh Quaker Trail”, which was devised by Dave Smith of the Sedbergh Area Walking and Cycling Group and supported by the Sustainable Development Fund. The trail is described in booklet available by post at the Sedbergh Information Centre on Main Street, Sedbergh, telephone: 015396‑20125. Further information about walking in the Sedbergh area can be found on the Walking and Cycling Group’s website: www.sedberghgateway.org.uk.