Last Friday afternoon, summer made a late comeback at Pooley Bridge. The garden of Granny Dowbekin’s Tearoom was busy. Many customers watched a family of ducks on the tree-lined River Eamont as it flowed into Ullswater.

Things are not always so serene here. In December 2015 Storm Desmond washed away the 251-year-old stone bridge which gave the village its name. For 15 weeks Pooley Bridge was cut in two. Anyone wishing to travel from one side of the village to the other was faced with a 13-mile diversion. Tourist traffic dropped well below already quiet winter levels. And the sight of a gap where its bridge used to be had a devastating effect on morale.

Cumbria County Council acted quickly to have a temporary bridge installed in time for the following Easter. Now that bridge has been removed while a permanent replacement is prepared as part of a £5m project.

A temporary footbridge costing more than £350,000 opened last Friday. But vehicles will be unable to cross the Eamont at Pooley Bridge until the new bridge is lifted into place. “Next spring” is the only timescale the council is giving, suggesting a wait of at least six months.

Husband and wife John and Eva Beer officially opened the footbridge. They know all too well the inconvenience of the village being divided. Their bungalow is on the west bank of the river, just yards from the bridge. Four years ago flood water swept through their home. John, 88, and Eva, 89, took refuge in the loft before being rescued. “Next day I saw the bridge disappear before my eyes,” said John. “It was very upsetting. It was the great feature of the village.”

They were out of their home for six months. Staying on the eastern side of the village, they faced a 26-mile round trip to visit their home. Mr and Mrs Beer have agreed that the council can use their land for the footbridge. Stephen and Natasha Bate have allowed the council to use their land on the other side of the river.

Pooley Bridge’s situation is less bleak now than in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. There is pedestrian access across the river. The road diversion is 10 miles rather than 13: after Storm Desmond drivers couldn’t use Eamont Bridge, which was storm-damaged. And there is currently a free car park to the west of Pooley Bridge, to encourage visitors.

Colin Hindle owns Granny Dowbekin’s Tearoom, which is just yards from the footbridge. The bridge that was washed away, and its replacement, will be even closer. “No other village in the Lake District has got free parking,” he said. “That’s made us a viable destination.”

Of the keenly anticipated road bridge, he said: “It’s a beautiful design. It will be the first stainless steel road bridge in the country. It will sparkle and reflect the sun. It’s going to make it unique in the Lake District. And it will be safer with two pavements.”

Looking back to the three and a half months after Storm Desmond when Pooley Bridge had no bridge, Colin said: “It was very difficult. Businesses had half their usual business. But some people made a point of coming here to support us. There’s a lot of affection for the village.”

And what about the next few months? “We’ve learned to turn everything into a positive outlook. In the next few months there’ll be a fantastic new bridge. Everyone’s very positive and looking forward to it. Come and support us when we’re going through this time.”

Carl Henderson is manager of Pooley Bridge Village Stores. “The footbridge is better than people thought it would be,” he said. “The design for the new road bridge is fantastic. It will be a tourist attraction in itself.”

Carl mentioned that the village lottery - established last month - has helped. Businesses are handing lottery tickets to customers who spend at least £10. A monthly draw will operate until next March.

Craig Mitchell is Cumbria County Council’s project manager for the bridge. The council sought the public’s feedback on the design, presenting three options during a consultation last summer. The 128ft structure that was chosen has been designed to be more resilient to extreme weather. It is single span, whereas the old bridge had three arches. Its two supports in the river slowed water flow.

The new bridge will come in six main sections, fabricated in Darwen, Lancashire, and be transported to the site for assembly. “It’s never been a cost thing,” said Craig. “It’s always been about the character of the bridge from our point of view.

“After Storm Desmond there was months of disruption for the village. Lessons we’ve learned include better signage to direct people into the village [from the east] with signs from the motorway.

“The feedback is really good for the new bridge. We’ve got to build it in winter so we’re not affecting the tourist trade. It’s the worst time of year for us but the best for the community. They’re so understanding. You can’t build a bridge without any disruption.”

Pooley Bridge’s most popular tourist attraction is Ullswater Steamers. Marketing manager Rachel Bell said: “I’m not saying it’s easy. But we’re running extra promotions and we’ve got so many strong partnerships. Hats off to the local authorities.”

Bob and Greta Johnson had travelled to the village from Stainton, three-and-a-half miles away by car. Or, until the new bridge opens, eight miles. “A lot of people supported the village when the bridge closed before,” said Bob. “But there was almost no one coming to the Steamers’ side. This time I think because of the footbridge and free parking it will be better.

“The real loss will be through traffic, the people that would be driving through.”

Several local villages have lost a bus service during the bridge works. Stagecoach’s 508 runs from Patterdale to Penrith, crossing Pooley Bridge and calling at Tirril, Yanwath and Eamont Bridge. The bridge closure has forced Stagecoach to divert it via the A592, with a stop at the temporary car park near the village. The company has offered to run a direct service between Pooley Bridge and Penrith along the B5320 if local parish councils or the county council subsidise it in the region of £5,000.

Miles Macinnes, chairman of Barton and Pooley Bridge Parish Council, says parish councils cannot afford it and thinks the county council should pay. The county council points out that it receives no funding to subsidise commercial bus services.

On the road closure in general, Mr Macinnes said: “We’re doing the best we can. I’m sure people will come to the village to see the construction work.”

And he believes that the stresses of recent years have had one positive effect on Pooley Bridge. “It’s a village that relies on holiday-makers. There are a lot of second homes. Not a huge community spirit, until the last few years. It has brought the community together.”