A campaign to raise £65,000 to replace a footbridge on the outskirts of Lynmouth has had a £1,000 boost.
The Lyn Community Development Trust (LCDT) is now appealing to local businesses to get behind the campaign to replace Woodside Bridge.
The bridge once formed part of a centuries-old walking route along the lower reaches of the East Lyn River.
It allowed walkers to return to Lynmouth via a short easy circuit through Middleham Memorial Gardens, created in memory of victims of the notorious 1952 flood.
But its well-trodden softwood timbers eventually wore out and in December 2016 it had to be removed.
Now LCDT is working with Exmoor National Park to replace the bridge, and the £1,000 cheque brought the total so far to £13,000.
But the campaign is still well short of the £65k needed to reinstate the bridge with a hardwood structure capable of supporting the thousands of visitors who once used it.
Julia Bradbury has already offered her support to the cause, after the route featured in her hit TV series Britain’s Best Walks, as has TV actress and presenter Caroline Quentin, who lives locally to Exmoor and is President of the Campaign for National Parks.
Suzette Hibbert, director of the LCDT, said: “We’re so grateful to everyone who has so far donated and to the celebrities for giving their backing to our campaign.
“Woodside Bridge is a real asset to both our community and our visitors, as it provides easy access to Middleham Gardens and also a safer route for people wishing to access the very popular walk to Watersmeet from Tors Road.
“We’re now looking for local businesses and individuals who feel as passionately as we do to come forward and help put this much-loved walking route back on the map for another generation.”
Dan James, sustainable economy manager at Exmoor National Park, said: “If the necessary funds can be raised, the new bridge will be built from solid oak sourced here on Exmoor, giving it a much longer lifespan than the last softwood one installed by the army.
!Although not formally a right of way, we’re delighted to be helping bring back this cherished piece of local charm and hope it will lead to thousands more people enjoying this magnificent woodland walk and its unique heritage.”
You can donate to the Woodside Bridge Appeal via CareMoor for Exmoor at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor, via the LCDT at wonderful.org/appeal/woodsidebridgereplacementappeal-1f70a510 for gift aid donations, or in person at the National Park Centre in Lynmouth.