ENGINEERS with a head for heights used abseiling skills to complete work on a Victorian suspension bridge suspended over a spectacular gorge in Wester Ross.
Conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland, which maintains the Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve (NNR) site, closed the area as a precaution earlier this month.
The suspension bridge was closed after a routine inspection revealed a potential problem. The contractors visited last week and completed repairs and maintenance paving the way for the NNR to reopen.
Contractors Dinardo Partnership and Trac Engineering performed essential repair and maintenance work on the historic bridge. The job was to rappelling down the bridge, which sits about 200 feet above the gorge below, in order to access the underside of the bridge deck.
Built in 1874 for the Victorian engineer Sir John Fowler, this historic bridge is a fairly old example of a 19th-century suspension deck bridge using cables, rather than chain links which were more common at the time.
The suspension bridge is designed to move a little, but excessive movement can cause damage – which is why the number is limited to six people on the bridge.
Plans to improve visitor facilities at the Corrieshalloch site, which receives more than 100,000 visitors per year, were submitted for planning approval to the Highland Council in May this year.
The charity has created plans for new sensitively designed visitor facilities in the gorges to help in the safe and sustainable management of visitors to the national nature reserve, ensuring, it says, that the built heritage and naturalness of Corrieshalloch is well maintained now and in the future.
This will include toilets, Wi-Fi, blue toilets for motorhomes, improved parking lots and trails, orientation and interpretation around the National Nature Reserve, allowing visitors to enjoy an enhanced experience.
With its beautiful location and impressive scenery, Corrieshalloch Gorge has seen the number of visitors increase since 2012, reaching over 100,000 per year.
The £ 2.3million project has secured £ 923,277 in funding from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund.
This is part of a new Scottish program of almost £ 9million of investment projects in the Highlands and Islands to provide more and better opportunities for visitors to experience the assets of natural and cultural heritage. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is managed by NatureScot and is partly funded by the European Development Fund.
The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will encourage people to visit some of the most remote and rural areas and to create and maintain jobs, businesses and services in local communities.
The aim of the fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in a way that conserves and protects them.
Wester Ross NNR closed due to security concerns
Corrieshalloch site set to invest in visitor experience