During the Scottish winter of 2013, a team of eight Ayr Rotarians constructed a small footbridge across Mill Burn below Dunure Mains on the Ayrshire Coastal Path. The need became evident when the record wet year of 2012 demonstrated that stepping-stones placed across the stream proved inadequate to deal with major floods.
The bridge was designed by Jimmy Begg and approved by Harry Peters, a real civil engineer who once built a bridge over the Blue Nile! It is situated about 9 miles (14.5 kms) south of Ayr and half-way between the Robert Adam designed Culzean Castle and the fishing village of Dunure. Just after the end of WW2, the peoples of Scotland gifted life-time use of a top flat at Culzean Castle (owned by the National Trust for Scotland) to General Eisenhower for his part in D-Day and the liberation of Europe.
The landowner kindly gave permission for the construction of the small footbridge once the adjacent field of barley was harvested. But unfortunately for the volunteers, while making the most of the only dry week in September, the tenant farmer managed to harvest his crop and plough the huge field in four days - just before the delivery of three large telegraph poles and several railway sleepers!
Undaunted, the team of young lads (all of pension vintage) subsequently manhandled poles and sleepers down 500m of ploughed field to the burn, followed by half a ton of cement and 250kg of decking and posts. On top of this, they also gathered up about three tons of field boulders to build the two stone abutments. With good weather windows few and far between, they worked 240 man-hours throughout the 2012 winter from October to February to complete the bridge in good time for the main 2013 walking season – at a total cost of only £750.
Prior to construction, the workcrew and site were visited by John Minhinick, President of Rotary International Britain & Ireland, who nearly fell in the water with the remote prospect of being swept downstream for 60m and over a 20m cliff waterfall and onto the beach ... if it had been a big flood!! A good reason to build the bridge!
The construction project was made possible by generous donations of £300 from Cunninghame Ramblers and £450 from FMC BioPolymers of Girvan, and the welcome gift of 12 large steel custom-made fixing brackets by Wallace McDowall, Steel Fabricators, of Prestwick. These donations ensured that all costs were met without totally depleting the Path’s meagre annual maintenance budget of £1000 per year to cover 100 miles of route.
A bridge well done Rotarians!! Congratulations on being on time and on budget. Now time to run for political office!
To learn more about the Ayrshire Coastal Path, visit their website .... and be sure to book early for a winter 2014 bridge building brigade!