A Woodside Story
Today (19th October 2020), as #ExmoorDay is celebrated, Exmoor National Park Authority and Lyn Community Development Trust have released a new film on social media celebrating the reinstatement of Woodside Bridge in the East Lyn Valley earlier this spring following a successful community-led campaign to raise £65K.
The video tells the story of Woodside Bridge, thought to date back to the 1850s, in the words of those involved in securing its future. With plans for a public celebration cancelled due to coronavirus, it acts as a virtual opening and heartfelt thank you to the community and all those involved in raising and contributing to the £65K needed.
The last bridge at Woodside was installed in the 1990s but by 2016 its soft wood timber had come to the end of its life and the bridge was removed over safety concerns.
With £65K needed for a new one, a public appeal was launched by the Lyn Community Development Trust in partnership with the National Park Authority’s CareMoor for Exmoor scheme. It attracted celebrity backing from Julia Bradbury, and later Caroline Quentin whose Facebook video appeal received nearly 17,000 views. Donations soon came flooding in, ranging from pennies to tens of thousands of pounds, and after two years the appeal had exceeded its target.
The new bridge was installed in May 2020 under stringent Covid security controls, followed by works on the surrounding paths to enable better access for all and increase accessibility for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Wood extracted through conservation management from the National Park’s own woodlands in Burridge was used in construction.
Dan James, Sustainable Economy Manager at Exmoor National Park said: “At the start bridging the gap seemed like an impossible dream. But by joining forces with the community and thanks to the generosity of so many people it is great to now see the new bridge in place. While we would love to thank everyone in person we hope this short video will provide a lasting record of this fantastic achievement.”
David Wilde, Chairman of the Lyn Community Development Trust said: “The bridge forms a very important part of the community here so we were eager to see it reinstated. It forms part of a short circular walk enjoyed regularly by many local people and is also hugely important for tourism, situated as it is in the beautiful East Lyn Valley near the start of one of the area’s most popular walks to Watersmeet.”
The film, available on the ExmoorNP Facebook page and YouTube channel features Lynton and Lynmouth Mayor, Chris Sleep, unveiling a plaque acknowledging the major donors to the project, whilst Robin Milton, Chairman of the National Park Authority had the honour of cutting the ribbon and declaring the bridge open.
Mr Milton said: “It is a great honour to have formally declared the new Woodside Bridge open, showing what can be achieved when we all work together. It is a fantastic example of how as a National Park we can manage our core purposes of conservation and access sustainably to the benefit of local communities and the nation, and we sincerely thank everyone that helped make this happen.”
The bridge is located at the entrance to the East Lyn Valley just a short walk upstream from the main car park within Lynmouth. It features in one of 10 new Exmoor Explorer walks due to be launched later this year.
Anyone that enjoys Exmoor is invited to contribute to future conservation and access work across the National Park through donations to CareMoor, which raises vital funds towards a range of projects. Further details can be found at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor.
Published: 19 October 2020
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