Posted on 17th November 2009
Horse riders have crossed an ancient stone bridge in Crychan Forest, near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, for the first time in over 50 years.
The riders, members of the Crychan Forest Association, were able to cross Pont Cefn-blewog (Hairy Back Bridge) thanks to the completion of restoration work by Forestry Commission Wales.
Pont Cefn-blewog is a post-mediaeval, single-arched stone bridge. It is set in a steep-sided valley and crosses Nant Tridwr, a small stream in the 2,439 hectare (6,027 acre) Crychan Forest.
When the Forestry Commission built the forest road many years ago, a spillage of rocks blocked the access track on the western side of the bridge. As a result, the bridge fell into disuse and it lay forgotten until work began in 2004 to open up the forest for horse riding access.
In 2008, Forestry Commission Wales carried out repairs to the bridge, repointing it with lime mortar in keeping with how it was built originally. Repairs to the bridge’s foundations, which had been partially washed out, were also carried out. In September 2009, a 100 metre stone track was constructed down to the bridge which restored the link on its western side.
Forestry Commission Wales Local Area Manager, Brian Hanwell, said, “Pont Cefn-blewog is the only stone bridge in Crychan Forest and it has been so rewarding to bring it back into use. Particular care had to be taken to avoid sedimentation of the watercourse, which would have had an adverse effect on aquatic life.
“Our contractors did a brilliant job, and we took the opportunity to fell a few conifers to open up the area around the bridge. This will let the light in and give the broadleaved trees more space to grow.”
Chair of the Crychan Forest Association, Karen Collier, said, “This historic bridge is a most attractive feature in the forest. The restoration work has enabled a link between two parts of the forest to be made, allowing easy access to a little-known part of the forest and also to connect up with parts of the Epynt Way on the Ministry of Defence’s estate.
“This is an exciting development and we are very grateful to Forestry Commission Wales for making this possible.”
A new link track crosses the Nant Tridwr over the wonderful old stone bridge known as Pont Cefn- blewog