A 200-year-old County Durham footbridge that provides access to two stunning and dramatic waterfalls has reopened to the public.
Teesdale Wynch Bridge – which leads to High Force and Low Force waterfalls – had to close earlier in 2019 when an inspection discovered it needed vital maintenance work.
But the bridge has now reopened, enabling hikers and tourists to once more cross the 60-foot gorge it spans, a gorge that has the River Tees thundering along its bottom.
The repairs saw the bridge’s timber deck replaced. The bridge also had its suspension joints mended and its iron work repainted, as well as getting a thorough clean.
Work on Teesdale Wynch Bridge started in October and – in spite of a period of heavy rain – Durham County Council engineers managed to keep to their timetable and got the bridge open in time for Christmas.
The council’s highway services manager, Mark Readman, said, “This structure is not only of historic importance, but it also provides a vital link across the River Tees, connecting walkers to the Pennine Way and High Force.”
“The bridge is a listed structure and is located in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which can both bring challenges when carrying out any maintenance works. Our engineers have been able to carry out the works to the bridge in keeping with its historic nature.”
“Due to the design of the bridge, there is a maximum load capacity and we ask that anyone using the bridge respects this to ensure that the footbridge remains safe for use by adhering to the restrictions displayed at each end of the bridge.”
“Failure to adhere to these restrictions could result in damage to the footbridge resulting in further closures.”
The grade-II listed footbridge was built for the Duke of Cleveland around 1820, replacing what was claimed to be Europe’s first suspension bridge. Teesdale Wynch Bridge offers especially good views of Low Force waterfall – views that have inspired artists, including Turner.