5th May 2009
A historic bridge reopened today (Tuesday May 5) in the Cairngorms National Park thanks to the combined efforts of local groups.
The Gynack Bridge crossing in Kingussie, which has been closed for two and a half years, was reopened by Minister for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham.
The bridge was condemned in 2006 after it failed to pass an engineering inspection for public safety. It had been built in its most recent incarnation on top of sections of old railway line, and this was no longer considered to be safe.
There are historical records of a bridge on this site going back to at least 1870 where it is recorded on the first edition Ordnance Survey map of the area.
The bridge is of enormous importance to the local community’s access network, as it lies in the centre of the village spanning the Gynack Burn between Ardbroilach and Gynack Roads.
It offers access to pristine deciduous woodland with remains of the old mill systems in evidence, and has been very popular with locals and visitors alike.
Kingussie Community Development Company went ’round the houses’ to build support for replacing the condemned bridge, and secured some £7,000 towards the cost from The Highland Council.
They commissioned a survey and outline design for a replacement bridge from Forestry Civil Engineering, the aerial mast ‘ranger’ bridge.
Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) was asked by the community council to take the project forward in April 2008 and took this design for planning consent in the first instance.
Initial objections to the bridge from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) were dropped after more evidence mitigating concerns over flood risk from replacing the bridge was presented.
An otter and bat survey was carried out as part of the condition of consent. COAT then took forward the project for fundraising, securing £11,412 LEADER funding from the Cairngorms Local Action Group (LAG), with the balance of the £28,000 project cost made up from COAT.
The project commenced in February 2009, with the old bridge removed, a new bridge constructed, and upgraded path put in on either side of the path. This included replacing the subsiding steps on the Gynack Road side, and building a viewing platform within the woodland on the Ardbroilach Road side, which will link in with the community council’s local interpretive project.
This project completes the path network, renovations and interpretation that the Kingussie Community Development Company have been working to complete during the same period, providing the community with an excellent network of low level walking routes for the local people and visitors. These projects were all supported by the Cairngorms Local Action Group LEADER, Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage funds.
Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am delighted the Gynack Bridge is open for public use once again, its restoration will make a significant difference to the local community’s access network.
“The Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust are to be congratulated for not only overseeing this important development but for also ensuring environmental concerns were taken into account throughout.”
COAT Manager Dougie Baird said: “It’s great to see this project come together, and gaining LEADER support from Cairngorms LAG was vital in making this happen. I think that the bridge being closed left an enormous hole in the middle of the local access network, and it is gratifying to see this project come to a conclusion with a new bridge and path in place.”
Patricia Methven, Grants Programme Manager for Cairngorms Local Action Group, commented: “We were delighted to support the local paths group in progressing their project. It brings together an effective path network for the area, which will be an attractive asset for both local people and visitors.
“The formation of Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust has been very useful giving communities the support they need with these expensive and complex projects. This project is a good example of how the hard work of many dedicated volunteers can achieve such a major path improvement for the area.”
Local Highland Councillor and Cairngorms National Park Authority member Dave Fallows said the project was just one example of how the National Park, in supporting the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust, and The Highland Council had been able to work together to deliver a much needed facility.
He added: “Both local people and visitors will derive great benefit from this bridge and the path network that it re-opens and I am quite sure this will prove to be amongst the first of many such enhancements that COAT will be able to deliver in the future.”
Donnie Grant, of Kingussie Community Development Company, said: “The Community are delighted to have the new Gynack Bridge opened after almost three years without this historic link between the West and East sides of the Town
“We are extremely grateful to COAT as one of the main funders, together with Leader and Highland Council, for taking over and completing this Project which is so important to Kingussie.”