Abseiling engineers ensure Victorian-era Wester Ross suspension bridge is good to go at Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve run by the National Trust for Scotland
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ENGINEERS with a head for heights used abseiling skills to carry out work on a Victorian suspension bridge dangling over a spectacular gorge in Wester Ross.
Conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland, which looks after the Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve (NNR) site, had closed the area as a precautionary measure earlier this month.
The suspension bridge was closed after a routine inspection indicated a potential issue. Contractors visited last week and completed repairs and maintenance paving the way for the NNR to be reopened.
Contractors Dinardo Partnership and Trac Engineering carried out the vital repairs and maintenance work on the historic bridge. Work involved abseiling off the bridge, which is some 200ft above the gorge below, in order to access the underside of the bridge deck.
Built in 1874 for the Victorian engineer Sir John Fowler, this historic bridge is quite an early example of a 19th-century suspended deck bridge using cables, rather than chain links that were more common at the time.
The suspension bridge is designed to move a little bit, but excessive movement can cause damage – which is why numbers are limited to six people on the bridge.
Designs to improve visitor facilities at the Corrieshalloch site, which welcomes more than 100,000 visitors per year, were submitted for planning approval with Highland Council in May this year.
The charity has created plans for sensitively-designed new visitor facilities at the Gorge, to help with the safe and sustainable management of visitors to the National Nature Reserve, ensuring, it says, that Corrieshalloch’s built and natural heritage is well cared for now and in the future.
This will include toilets, wi-fi, a blue loo for campervans, improved parking facilities and paths, wayfinding and interpretation around the National Nature Reserve, enabling visitors to enjoy an enhanced experience.
With its beautiful location and impressive scenery, Corrieshalloch Gorge has seen an increase in visitor numbers since 2012, to more than 100,000 annually.
The £2.3 million project has secured £923,277 funding from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund.
It’s part of a new almost £9 million Scottish programme of projects to invest in the Highlands and Islands to provide more and better quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is led by NatureScot and is part funded through the European Development Fund.
The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas and create and sustain jobs, businesses and services in local communities.
The purpose of the fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in a way that conserves and protects them.