Arkengarthdale bridge washed away in 2019 flooding replaced

Caption: Horse riders Jane Baker and Lucy Baker, from Arkle Moor Riding Centre, and cyclist Stuart Price from Dales Bike Centre, with rangers and volunteers on the footbridge, enjoy the restored crossing at Slei Gill in Arkengarthdale. Photo: Wendy McDonnell/YDNPA.

Rangers and volunteers have built a bridge over Slei Gill in Arkengarthdale to complete a four-year programme of flood recovery work.

A total of 13 river crossings were swept away in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale following thunderstorms on July 30, 2019.

The bridge at Slei Gill, which is on the route of a popular bridleway in an area steeped in lead mining heritage, is the last significant piece of rights of way infrastructure to be put back.

The Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected project, a joint venture funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by the North Pennines National Landscape and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, paid for all the materials, which were sourced from Hartlington Fencing Supplies near Grassington.

In November, those who had worked to restore the crossing met local horse riders and cyclists.

They tried out the new ford surface constructed from precast concrete panels.

The job took six weeks for two rangers, who were assisted each day by Dales Volunteers.

Member champion for recreation management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Lizzie Bushby, said: “Through the Tees-Swale: Naturally Connected programme we have been able to improve six circular routes in this glorious part of the National Park.

“The Slei Gill bridge and ford make possible a circular walk or ride from Fremington and Reeth up to Langthwaite, where people can stop for refreshments at the Red Lion Inn, which itself was badly affected by the 2019 floods.

“It’s really satisfying that this last link has been restored.

“Sincere thanks are due to the 12 Dales Volunteers, including members of the Ragged Robin group, who worked on the bridge.  Many hands made light work, especially when gathering stone from the beck to face the bridge abutments.

“Thanks also go to our contractors who lifted the concrete panels into place; the ford is now easier for riders to cross than it was before the floods.   And the work simply wouldn’t have been possible without National Lottery players and the support of The National Lottery Heritage Fund.”

North Yorkshire Council delegates responsibility for rights of way maintenance in the Yorkshire Dales National Park to the National Park Authority.

However the council has helped with repairs to the public rights of way network affected by the 2019 storm, including by replacing two 18-metre footbridges.