Good news as the new Pooley Bridge has finally opened after the previous stone structure was destroyed in 2015 during storm Desmond.

The UK’s first stainless steel road bridge, open to traffic and pedestrians, will be officially opened today over the River Eamont.

The 128ft structure reconnects the Ullswater valley and replaces the 18th Century bridge.

Councillor Tony Markley, vice chairman of Cumbria County Council, will officially open the new single span bridge today, in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which is scheduled to take place this morning.

Cumbria County Council rebuilt the bridge as part of the council’s Infrastructure Recovery Programme, which has repaired damage inflicted by Storm Desmond to over 450 bridges as well as large sections of road and other highway infrastructure.

It is hoped it will boost the economy and transport links for local people in the Lake District beauty spot.

The bridge was designed as a single span structure to avoid the need for piers in the river, which helps reduce the flood risk and making the structure more flood resilient.

Councillor Keith Little, county council cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Pooley Bridge’s new bridge is officially open to the public.

"The council has been working hard to repair the widespread damage to our highways following Storm Desmond and this is one of the last major projects.

“I’d like to thank all our contractors for creating a fantastic new structure, and I’d also like to thank the local community in Pooley Bridge who have worked with us through the design stages and throughout the construction.

"I know they’ve had a lot to put up with, but we now have an iconic new bridge to be very proud of and which will attract many visitors in the years to come.”

Miles MacInnes, chairman of Barton & Pooley Bridge Parish Council, said: “Our community was split in two when we lost our 251-year-old bridge to Storm Desmond; it was like losing a well-loved relative.

"It’s been a long five years and local businesses have suffered but we’re really thrilled that the new bridge is finally open.

"It looks wonderful and we are sure this spectacular modern structure will prove a popular tourist attraction in its own right. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to this beautiful part of Lakeland.”

Diane Bourne, Managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, main contractor for the project, said: “It’s always so sad when we lose a piece of history so it was really important that we built a new, modern bridge which would not only complement the local surroundings but which would ensure the communities either side of the River Eamont remained permanently connected for future generations to come.

"The new bridge is slender and exceptionally strong and is designed to be resilient to any future extreme weather conditions. We’re very proud to deliver the UK’s first stainless steel road bridge and I’d like to thank all of the team for working so hard to complete this landmark project and to the local community for their support and patience.”

A larger scale event was originally planned to mark the official opening but this has been postponed because of the covid-19 restrictions.