Bridge on the River…..

OK, I’m leading you on a bit. This is the bridge over the Nant y Bedd – well, at least one of the bridges.

I’ve been putting this off for a while now, but in the interests of safety I was getting a little concerned about how bouncy the bridge by the house was getting when I took a wheelbarrow across it. I poked the supporting timbers with a knife and a drill bit and they went in a bit too easily for comfort. If it was just us I’d probably have been less concerned, but a thousand sets of feet a year makes one think a bit more carefully!

A bit of research – I never throw anything away – showed that the original bridge was installed in 2001. Yes, that’s 22 years ago. The supporting timbers then were a couple of Douglas Firs which were felled just above the site, so easy-peasy to get them in place (sorry, Richard L for your broken finger!).

Here’s a couple of shots of it just completed.

Summer 2001 – without the ramps – note the slightly bent appearance!
First wheelbarrow traverse
‘Stress testing’ with the family in 2001

It was obvious that I couldn’t do this repair on my own, so I called in treehouse maker extraordinaire Dan Tuckett. But before he came along I stripped the treads off. It looked terrible!

There’s the worst bit – far right

Big thanks to the folks at Cilfiegan Sawmills near Usk who came up with what we needed. A couple of big Douglas Fir beams, but this time all nicely squared off. Although this turned out to be a bit of a problem as the original superstructure was bolted to the wiggly version above!

Removing the handrails

How to get these big bits of wood into place. The span is just under 7 metres (21ft in old money) and they are 10in x 6in. There’s no way to use any machinery, but that’s what neighbours are for. A couple of quick calls and Fin (up the road) and Oliver (down the road) provided the necessary ‘muscle’ to manhandle the beams into place. Thanks guys.

Getting one off the truck.
Almost there – note the rollers to get it across the stream
Halfway there.
Both new beams in place

At this point Dan delved into his truck and came up with his high tech spirit level. I thought the level looked “about right”!

Technology overcomes ‘suck-it-and-see’

From here on it was a case of putting the jigsaw back together. And, amazingly, it all fitted – with a bit of tweaking here and there.

Dan and I bounced up and down but the bridge didn’t move, so that was an improvement. Now it was time for a bit of modern ‘stress testing’.

On the Friday, we had Alys Fowler’s Creative Writing course, so I suggested a ‘class photo’. They fell for it, so here’s 12 people on it.

Alys is the little one in the middle – she’s actually not that small!

The following day we had the Llanthony Garden Club, so I managed to get 18 on it!

Just note that I’m taking the pics, not standing on it!!

I reckon those timbers will take at least three times that number, so maybe we’ll have a summer of ‘posing on the bridge’!

Interestingly, when I came to get rid of the old timbers, they were pretty solid in the middle, with just one piece that was of concern. Douglas Fir is great.

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