Tourist trail complete again as bridge re-opens
22 Oct 2020
A famous walking route is complete once again after a key footbridge was rebuilt in west Northumberland.
Kirkhaugh Footbridge carries the historic Isaac's Tea Trail over the River South Tyne, north of Alston within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a route well frequented by tourists.
Isaac’s Tea Trail is a 36-mile long distance path, inspired by the tale of Isaac Holden, who in Victorian times was a familiar figure on the rough tracks in the area.
Having stood since 1953, the bridge was badly damaged by floods in 2018 resulting in its total collapse - making it completely impassable to the public.
Engineering teams have been working at the remote site for four months on what’s been a technically challenging project - and the scheme is now complete.
Due to its remote location and Environment Agency conditions to help safeguard the important river ecosystem, the replacement bridge had to be designed to be installed by the limited size of plant and equipment that could access the site. Roads and tracks also had to be improved to allow the machinery to safely get to the construction area.
The work of the County Council's in-house design and delivery team, backed by specialist suppliers, mean Isaac's Tea trail can continue its original route without a long diversion.
Haltwhistle Councillor and Civic Head Ian Hutchinson, who opened the new bridge said: “It was a great honour to re-open this key link which is not only for walkers but is also well used by local communities as a route to the nearby church.
Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “It was such a shame when the old bridge was destroyed by flooding and we’re delighted to have such a fine-looking structure now in place in this spectacular part of our county.
Roger Morris, from Hexham Ramblers, added:"The loss of the Kirkhaugh footbridge was a big setback to the trail.
“Thanks to the Northumberland County Council's engineers and contractors and the strong support of the local community we now have an even better footbridge. It's truly inspirational in such a beautiful and historic place."