News from Leo Walmsley for December 2011

  • Replacing the bridge at Tongue Gill

    11:29 08 December 2011
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    With our upland path repair work finished for this year, our work has now shifted focus onto estate work around the Central and Eastern Lakes property. Our first job was replacing the bridge over Tongue Gill, just outside Grasmere. Although the bridge had been condemned a while ago, we had a few problems in getting hold of all the materials. Since the bridge isn't on the official right-of-way and there's another route avoiding the bridge, the delay in materials wasn't such a problem, but it was still nice to finally get started.

    The Old Bridge at Tongue Gill in need of replacing

    Once the materials arrived they were transported up to the site by the Area Ranger Neil using his Land Rover. Our job was to take down the old bridge and construct the new one. Although it may look like a giant jigsaw puzzle, there's a lot of meticulous measuring, and remeasuring, as all of the bridge parts still had to be drilled and if you don't get it spot on you can end up with a very strange looking bridge!

    The materials at the site

    Once the beams and uprights had been drilled, the next job was to remove the old uprights and hand rails from the original bridge. We decided to leave the old beams and treads where they were, so they could be used to help us get the (very heavy) replacement beams into the right place. We did this by making a number of rollers out of cut-down fence posts and used the traditional technique of levering and rolling until the beams were in position.

    The new beams spanning the gill

    The next job was to remove the rest of the old bridge and dig the new beams into position in exactly the right place. Once we were happy with the placement, the two new beams were fastened the correct distance apart by using lengths of threaded bar and three large wooden "spacers". With the beams now joined to each other it was time to start attaching the uprights and the treads. For this stage, we were assisted by Bill, one of the Estate Rangers based in Ullswater, as a couple of the Fell Rangers were unavailable to help.

    Bill on the new bridge, with the uprights and treads in position

    The final stage to complete the bridge was the addition of the hand rails. Once the bridge was finished, we erected a few sections of post and rail fencing to either side of the bridge. This was added to act as a funnel and help the local farmer herd his sheep across.

    The Finished Bridge