National Park launches appeal for new Bridge

Public donations are being sought through a new CareMoor for Exmoor appeal to help build a new bridge across the River Barle, securing and improving a popular walking route between the iconic Exmoor landmark Tarr Steps and the village of Withypool.

Caroline Cook

While securing access improvements for future generations, the National Park Authority’s plans will also help nature by protecting valuable wildlife sites in the valley.

Dan Barnett, Access and Recreation Manager for the Authority said “The footpath which makes up part of the long-distance walking route the Two Moors Way, has always followed a permitted path in this location. The path here has become very unsafe due to heavy erosion caused by flooding. It is also an ecologically special area and ongoing path erosion and sediment loss is not good for the rivers’ fish and other wildlife. We plan to divert walkers onto the other side of the River Barle, where a public Right of Way already exists, by building a new bridge. This will ensure that the route is secured for years to come.”

“The new bridge is remote and difficult to reach for construction vehicles, and the river can run fast and deep here; making this a challenging project to deliver,” continued Dan. “We are fortunate to have had a bridge structure donated by Devon County Council that was used temporarily as part of a road scheme, and we are delighted that we will be able to reuse the main steel structure of this. However, we need to add an approach ramp, build the abutment supports and replace all the timber. The total estimated cost is around £120,000. We’ve managed to secure a large amount of this through various grants, donations, and our own reserves, but we’re now appealing to the public to help us raise a further £20,000.”

The Great Bradley Bridge CareMoor for Exmoor fundraising campaign launched this week provides various ways that the public can support the project.

“The location of the new bridge on part of the Two Moors Way and so near to Tarr Steps makes it a project that we know will tug at the heart strings of the visitors who know and love this special part of Exmoor,” said Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority.

“We’re holding a raffle and there are some great prizes on offer – we are extremely grateful to local business such as Exmoor Forest Inn, Highcliff House, Westerclose House, Hillways Farm, Stockham Farm, Wellhayes Vineyard, Wild about Exmoor, Exmoor Distillery and Wicked Wolf who have donated prizes. Tickets can be purchased from our National Park Centres or online and the draw will take place on 6th October.

“Local businesses Tarr Farm Inn, Withypool Shop and Tea Rooms and the Royal Oak at Withypool are all behind the CareMoor campaign and are selling raffle tickets and running events to help us raise funds. We really hope their efforts will be well supported by the public. With everyone’s help we can secure the popular walking route for future generations and make it safe for walkers and riders to cross the river. The bridge will also be the perfect place for walkers to stop, rest and reflect.”

The Authority is also offering dedication plaques on the bridge which might appeal to people wanting to remember someone special, to celebrate a special occasion, or simply to show their love for the area. Donations direct to the appeal can also be made online or at the Centres.

Details of the Great Bradley Bridge CareMoor campaign including the raffle, dedication plaques, and how to donate, can be found here

or call 01398 323665.