Building bridges in our community

Written by Integrated Skills

Jun 6, 2023

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On Friday 2nd June 2023, our team in Leeds joined Leeds Countryside Rangers on Otley Chevin Forest Park.

We engaged Leeds City Council Countryside Rangers in order to offer ourselves for a volunteering exercise, expecting to undertake some litter picking, but we were presented with a unique opportunity; replacing a footbridge on Otley Chevin.

The original bridge, whilst still functional, was beginning to wear and rot. We took our tools, supplied by the Countryside Rangers, and tore it up, being careful to remove and dispose of the nails safely.

Original Bridge

After some deliberation, with great care and detailed planning, we installed the joists that would support the new bridge, considering it’s new position against the stream’s banks and accounting for the new, longer slats. The new slats would provide a wider berth for the bridge, which meant our joists would be spread wider than the previous build. To keep the bridge relatively flat, we took initiative with the nature available to us, implementing rocks and mud from the banks of the stream to level our joists.

Bridge Building Integrated Skills

Once we were satisfied with the joist-placement, we found that with every breath, something seemed to go out of place. Attention to detail was key, so armed with a number of tape-measures and a spirit level, we set about securing the joists to a set of pikes, measuring and balancing between between every action.

Securing the joists

Now that the joists were secured and quite ceremoniously celebrated, it was time to lay the slats. In order to deliver the safest platform for walkers, the slats would have to be laid with a small gap between each. These gaps would allow for irrigation of water, mud, fallen leaves and other slip-hazards.

Laying slats

Meticulously lining up the slats before screwing them to the joists. We were very pleased with the outcome, as was Emma, our Countryside Ranger. We hope to get involved again!

Bridge built

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