A CAMPAIGN to reopen a previously well-used country lane near Lockerbie — blocked because of a bridge closure — has stepped up a gear.
The metal and timber structure spanning the Dryfe Water at Maxwell’s Thorn north-west of the town was designated unsafe due to flood damage in spring 2022.
A high metal fence with warning signs greets anyone making their way along Torwood Road — accessed from the west roundabout at M74 junction 17 — and intending to cross the bridge on to the adjoining Gallaberry Road.
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP David Mundell has intervened after being invited to visit the site by George Trudt, a community-minded Lockerbie resident and one of the campaign leaders.
Mr Mundell this week wrote to land-owners Crown Estates (Scotland) to highlight local concerns about the prolonged closure of the bridge and seeking clarification about any repair plans.
He said: “This route primarily served local and farm traffic but was also valued by walkers, cyclists and horse riders from the wider Lockerbie area.
“There is a great deal of historical interest in the route, which has been used by many generations of local people, and genuine concerns that the crossing could be lost for good if repair options are not under active consideration.
“The bridge carries a designated core path and was particularly popular with those seeking a scenic circular route to and from Lockerbie as well as an access point to the Annandale Way and a network of other minor routes.
“I understand the closure is also causing inconvenience for some local residents facing longer alternative routes and is a headache for farming enterprises with land on both sides of the bridge.”
Mr Trudt stated the bridge was ‘a big miss’ and it was vital that the crossing point was restored, both for recreational use and to meet the needs of farmers and other near-by residents.
He said: “This crossing, located at what may have been a ford at one time, is on a route which has been an ancient rite of passage for centuries. There was a mix of shock and disappointment when the bridge was fenced off.”
Cameron Shaw, who farms at near-by Dryfeholm, confirmed the bridge had proved an important link between their fields on both sides of the Dryfe Water during more than 50 years when generations of his family had been tenants.
He said: “The bridge was closed last year by the Crown Estates after some movement was identified in the foundations caused by flood water.
“Being unable to use the bridge has made our daily operations more difficult, time consuming and expensive. We have to use longer routes as the farm is now effectively split in half by the river.
“We’ve had an ongoing dialogue with the Crown Estates about the issue. It maybe they are reluctant to proceed because the high cost of repairs would be unlikely to be met through any additional income produced?”