Work is set to begin to replace a popular bridge near Lynmouth – three years after it was removed.

Contractors working with Exmoor Park Authority have started site preparations ready for the replacement of Woodside Bridge.

The new bridge is being built out of hardwood Exmoor oak, sourced sustainably from the park’s own woodland.

It means people will once again be able to enjoy the walk from Lynmouth along the lower reaches of the East Lyn River and cross to the Middleham Memorial Gardens, which honour those who lost their lives in the Lynmouth Flood of 1952.

The old bridge was removed in 2017 after its softwood timbers decayed, making it unsafe to use.

Its removal prompted a successful appeal to raise £65,000 for the replacement through a partnership between the Lyn Community Development Trust and the park authority’s CareMoor for Exmoor scheme.

The appeal won the backing of celebrities Julia Bradbury and Caroline Quentin, and an anonymous donation of £15,000 brought the two-year campaign to a close at the end of 2019.

Dan Barnett, Access and Recreation Manager at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We are pleased to be able to start work on this long-awaited project, which we hope will lift spirits locally and give a much-needed boost to the Lynmouth tourism economy when government restrictions lift and it is safe for visitors to return.”

“We are confident that the measures we are taking will ensure there is no increased risk to residents or workers due to coronavirus.

“Spectators will not be allowed during any of the works and are instead encouraged to follow the event on our social media channels, and of course to come and enjoy the new bridge when circumstances allow.”

The work follows an extensive risk assessment to adhere to government guidelines detailing how construction work should take place during the coronavirus pandemic.

The contractor team of four will be staying at Exmoor National Park Authority’s Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Education and will travel to the site directly.

They will travel in separate vehicles and will not be visiting local facilities, and the site and riverside path will be closed to the public while the workers are there.

Strict social distancing and hygiene rules will be observed for safely, and there will be hand washing and welfare facilities on site.