The 20 m span Bracklinn Falls footbridge replaces two earlier bridges, both washed away in exceptional floods. It serves to complete a core footpath network within the ‘Special Conservation Area’ of Bracklinn Falls and provides a sheltered viewing platform over the waterfall and gorge, as well as being a tourist attraction in its own right.
The design – by Malcolm Strong of Strong Bridges, the company that also built it - is centred around four home-grown Douglas Fir timber poles pinned at the centre and trussed using composite timber / steel verticals and diagonals. Steel links in the lower chord complete the pitched truss whilst allowing a curved ribbon deck to be supported in between the two trusses. The trusses brace themselves against each other using steel lattices.
This design allows the structure to be freestanding and easily movable. All members, except the poles, were prefabricated in a workshop and transported to site down narrow tracks. The poles were dragged onto the site and shaped in-situ. The whole bridge was preassembled on site and slid into position on a temporary steel bridge. The site could not be accessed by cranes or large plant, therefore the design had to allow for the structure to be raised and slid into final position using only manual winches.
The bridge structure and its copper roof enclose a space with lots of ‘private windows’ from which visitors can experience the falls below. Copper was selected for the canopy roof for its soft appearance and the fact that it will age naturally and sympathetically with the timber, in keeping with the wild, natural environment.