This is an archived press release
Monday 10 December 2007
10 December 2007
Bridge to a sustainable future
Walkers on their way up to the famous Kinder Scout now have a new landmark to look out for – a hand-carved wooden footbridge, made by a local craftsman with sustainable timber for the Peak District National Park Authority.
The new Golden Clough bridge was created from a sweet chestnut tree growing just 200 yards from the site in the Authority’s own plantation. The tree was selected because of its beautiful curved trunk by Edale craftsman Robin Wood, who specialises in hand-carved outdoor furniture.
“I always try to source local timber for my work,” said Robin, “but it was a very happy coincidence to find a tree of the perfect size and curve so close to the site. It was as if it had been planted 180 years ago just for the job. We walked into the site each day and not having to use any heavy machinery means that the carbon footprint of the bridge is very low.”
The new bridge, replacing an old worn-out footbridge, was funded by the National Park Authority and Natural England. It will be used by thousands of walkers and school-children on field studies as they follow the Grindsbrook valley up onto Kinder Scout.
National park access manager, Mike Rhodes, who commissioned the work said, “We wanted to do something special to improve access for everyone to one of the most stunning locations in the Peak District National Park. This spot is special because it is easily accessible, but as you cross this bridge you come out onto open moorland and get a real sense of entering a wild and beautiful place. I first saw one of Robin's bridges two years ago and instantly thought it would be the perfect thing for this spot.”
With help from the national park’s countryside maintenance team, the trunk was sawn and prepared on site then carefully winched into position before being carved. Working in this way maintains the natural shape of the timber resulting in a bridge that is entirely in keeping with its surroundings.
“I am inspired by traditional woodworking methods,” said Robin. “The bridge uses jointing techniques used in wooden boat-building while the curved main beam is similar to those used in local barn roofs. So often gates, stiles and bridges these days are generic items, the same all over the country. I want to reinvent the vernacular, creating something of local distinctiveness and character. It costs a little more but will last for generations and be crossed by millions of people in that time.”
Sweet chestnut, like oak, has a high tannin content – a natural preservative which means it lasts for many years outdoors without the use of harmful chemicals. The bridge should be there for many years to come and the tree itself will rapidly recover by growing new shoots.