The Gritstone Trail near Bollington re-opened in February 2020 following an eighteen month closure for repairs to an iconic stone arch footbridge across Harrop Brook. After severe flooding in 2018, it was judged to be unsafe due to movement of some large stones at its base. The bridge was probably built in Victorian times, it looks like a pack-horse bridge and is known locally as the ‘Donkey Bridge’. It was saved from collapse thanks, in part, to a donation by East Cheshire Ramblers. The bridge is located in the Peak District National Park (at grid reference SJ 948785) and on the Gritstone Trail, a popular long distance trail stretching south from Disley through East Cheshire and Staffordshire to Kidsgrove.
Over the years the bridge supports had been eroded by the force of the Harrop Brook and the bridge was in danger of collapse. However, the cost of restoration far exceeded the cost of replacing it with a ‘standard’ timber footbridge. East Cheshire Ramblers considered that it would be tragic to lose this unique little structure and pledged £500 towards the cost of restoration. Cheshire East Council obtained similar donations from Pott Shrigley and Rainow Parish Councils and also a donation from the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society. The repairs took a long time to organise as Harrop Brook is, surprisingly, classified as a ‘Main River’ and the responsibility of the Environment Agency. However the restoration was completed in early 2020 when stones were replaced in the arch and bags filled with fast-set concrete were carefully placed at the side of the stream to protect the bridge from further damage. Whilst the repairs looked stark initially, we expect they will mellow over time and blend into the surroundings.
This is an example of the work of the Footpaths Committee of East Cheshire Ramblers whose members regularly liaise with the Public Rights of Way Unit of Cheshire East Council. The Footpaths Committee monitor all public rights of way in an area of East Cheshire stretching from Disley and Poynton in the north to Wincle in the south. We hope that the many walkers using the Gritstone Trail will appreciate the retention of this historic bridge.
The bridge before the repairs
The repairs are to the right of the bridge
Harrop Brook and the Donkey Bridge