AN EMERGENCY bridge has been installed to a West Cumbrian farm and walking route after it was cut off by bad weather.

An existing bridge on the access track to High Nook Farm, Loweswater, was undermined by the beck after heavy rainfall which caused flooding across Cumbria on November 22.

The damage cut off tenant farmer David Allen and his family from accessing the nearby road, and cut off the farm's cattle from their winter silage feed.

It also affected a route popular with walkers.

As work cannot be carried out in the river at the moment to protect fish spawning habitats, the National Trust, which owns the farm, has hired a temporary bridge to provide access in the meantime.

The bridge, which is the only one in the country suitable for the location, was lifted into place this week by contractor Stobbarts.

Ricky Fee, Stobbarts' operations director, said: “The bridge had to be split into four sections to manoeuvre it up the narrow lonning then reassembled on site. But the narrow lanes weren’t the biggest challenge – that was the time pressure.”

Before construction began, West Cumbria Rivers Trust rescued 45 trout and 12 eels from the area and released them downstream.

Mark Astley, National Trust area ranger for Buttermere Valley, said: “It was really important to reconnect High Nook Farm with the road, and with their livestock, as quickly as possible.

"I’ve been so impressed with the skill of local contractors Stobbarts, and it also means this popular walking route is reconnected in time for the Christmas break.

"At the National Trust we’re working to help our upland landscape become more flood resilient. This work will only become more important as extreme rainfall events like this become more frequent.”

Mr Allen said: “Both the builders and the National Trust have worked excellently, I can’t knock them. It’s a difficult time of the year, with poor access and the weather was against them, they’ve worked really well.”

The temporary bridge has a ridged surface so the National Trust is advising horse riders and cyclists to dismount for safety while crossing the bridge.

The bridge will open to the public on Friday, December 22 and will stay in place until the summer.

Work will then start to repair the existing permanent bridge once the Environment Agency restrictions on working in rivers are lifted.