Bridging the gap for charity ramble

A team of volunteers repaired a footbridge that had been swept 30 metres downstream after bad flooding – so a charity ramble could go ahead.

The bridge being hauled across the river
The bridge being hauled across the river

The footbridge resided over the Unk in south Shropshire, in a dingle near Mainstone. More than a year ago, it was swept downstream by flood water 30 metres from its moorings.

The bridge was fished out of the river and left on the bank to dry just before the pandemic struck.

Last week a group led by David Hardwick, of Shropshire Council’s Footpath Maintenance Team, managed to achieve the impossible by carrying it back to its base.

The bridge being pushed along the bank

They laid four posts under it and rolled it back to the river, moving the back post to the front as they went.

Their next problem was to get the bridge to straddle the river without disappearing into it again. They laid planks on its bed for one end to rest on, while building its supports on the riverbank.

The group also constructed two new stiles further along the route.

All this effort was in support of the only walking event to be held around Bishop’s Castle this year, the Round and About Walks.

The double stile, with David Hardwick

The circular ramble of 23 miles will take place between May 18 and 31, in aid of Blood Cancer UK, which lost half its income last year.

Jean Shirley, who organises the walk, said: “When my friend and I were recceing the ramble route last year I thought I had got the instructions wrong. We went to cross a footbridge and it wasn’t there.

"We went to look for it and found it 30 metres downstream in the river. Without the bridge, I would have had to change the route, which would have been a shame as it’s a lovely part.”

Entry costs £10. Donations go to Blood Cancer UK.

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