Three bridges have reopened on popular cycle and walking routes between Whitehaven and Rowrah, as part of work by the charity Sustrans to restore the built and natural heritage of the former iron ore railways in the area.
Tracks of the Ironmasters project, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will restore a total 41 historic bridges and structures along 16 miles of routes in West Cumbria, and develop a signed trail including stories from the local community.
Sustrans worked with specialists to repair and improve three bridges which serve the National Cycle Network routes around Cleator Moor in Copeland – part of the main cycle connection between Hadrian’s Cycleway and the C2C. The work included de-scaling and repainting the distinctive metal railway bridges at Montreal Cottage and at Parkside (across the busy A5086 Cockermouth – Egremont main road). The team also repainted the newer metal footbridge carrying the National Cycle Network route 72 at Blind Lane, as well as undertaking extensive timber replacement and maintenance work on the three bridges.
The bridges carrying the cycle path were each closed for three-week intervals during the winter while works were completed.
“I’m delighted to say that the bridges at Montreal Cottages, Parkside and Blind Lane South are all now renovated and open for people on foot or by bike,” commented Sustrans network development manager Claire Kerrin. “These are very well-used sections of the path so we worked to a tight schedule to make sure the work was completed ahead of the spring season. Two of the bridges were over 100 years old and are fascinating reminders of the foot and cycle path’s past history as an iron ore railway.”
Tracks of the Ironmasters routes are part of the long distance cycle route the Sea to Sea, a 140 mile challenge route which attracts over 15,000 people every year. Sustrans is carrying out bridge restoration work along 42 miles of the C2C.