“As an ancient monument the bridge must be put back exactly the way it was, so it is especially pleasing to see how the ancient design lends itself to quick and economical repair.”“The cost of the scheme to rebuild the seven displaced spans is about £10,000. If we were to build a modern bridge instead it would cost about £500,000.”
…..I love the realities of this quote made by a local councillor a few weeks ago when commenting on the reconstruction of this grade I listed monument.
Following the floods of 22-23 December 2012, large sections of this ancient bridge was washed away by unprecedented amounts of flood water that in turn brought with it fallen trees and debris that crashed through the structure. An exact date for this clapper bridge seems to be in dispute how most suggest that it date back to around 1000BC. Today this iconic structure is considered to be one of the key attractions in the Exmoor national park so it is easy to see how important this site is and how the rebuilding took priority.
The irony is that it is not the first time that the bridge has been partially destroyed. My understanding is that it is a giant jigsaw puzzle with a detailed map and that each and every stone is marked and accounted for. 21st century man has become a master in his big yellow machines at building ancient causeways.
What I find more extra ordinary is peoples reaction to it.
Having spent some time here I observed one single phenomena and I come to term this a ’causeway of transformation.’ Everyone comes and interacts with the place in their own way. But what is consistent is that each and everyone once they have crossed that bridge…..are smiling!
I met a group of walkers who’s key aim was to try and incorporate the crossing of the bridge as many times as they could into their walk…….. ‘we just love walking over that bridge!’
I walked away smiling, feeling happy and knowing I too had been privileged to visit somewhere very special.