Watch National Trust visitors crossing Uckfield bridges for the first time

Sheffield Park and Garden has opened two new bridges, allowing visitors onto Iron Gates Lock for the first time.

On Thursday the National Trust unveiled a new pedestrian bridge over the river Ouse and which connects parkland at Sheffield Park and Garden to the Ouse Valley Way.

The opening of the rope bridge

The opening of the rope bridge

It also opened a new rope bridge which visitors can clamber across to explore Iron Gates Lock.

Jo Emerson, business support coordinator for the project, said: “The view from the bridge is breath-taking and tranquil, and we are looking forward to many visitors crossing.”

The bridge has been funded by a grant from LEADER rural development programme for England.

It will give increased access to the river for residents and visitors to the site, marking a key milestone in the river restoration project.

The bridge, which weighs nearly nine tonnes, had been sitting in the car park since November 2017.

This was while the National Trust waited for the correct ground conditions to allow the bridge to be installed.

The new bridge is 16m long and spans a 12m river.

Jo added: “We are also enthusiastic about opening up alternative routes for keen ramblers and walkers along this extension of the picturesque Ouse Valley Way.”

It was not just the pedestrian bridge which wowed visitors as the new rope bridge drew crowds of eager walkers.

As visitors cross the bridge it bounces up and down which is sure to be a hit with younger visitors and the young at heart.

Brenda Styles has volunteered at Sheffield Park and Garden for a year and at the opening she was thrilled with the new developments at the site.

She said: “I think they’re fantastic.

“We’ve waited a long time for them to be put into place. I think it’s wonderful.

“[The rope bridge] is really going to encourage the children - and grown-ups.

Jane Leilby added: “I think it’s amazing. This landscape is just outstanding.

“It’s going to be a wow factor.”

Now visitors can access Iron Gates Lock they can view a whole host of new wildlife, as the National Trust’s Laura Steuart explained.

She said: “You will be able to see some kingfishers flittering past hopefully and some butterflies.

“We get speckled woods around here, red admirals.

“We get loads of different species of dragonfly. We have Demoiselles, banded and beautiful.

“Hopefully we’ll get some flowers on the island.”

Visitors exploring the island can also admire the wild patch containing blackthorn thicket.

She added: “In there you’ll get some nesting birds.

“We might get some more rare ones as we go.”

Laura also told that in the bricks of the lock visitors may get to see Wagtails and bats nesting.

She said: “Sometimes in the pools of the water you’ll get to see eels.”

To mark the celebration events more than 50 visitors joined together for a scenic, but muddy, walk across the parkland before meeting at the bridges.

Once they had arrived the walkers enjoyed hot chocolate, mulled wine and a selection of sandwiches and nibble while warming their hands by the fire.

After everyone had made the most of the refreshments, the bridges were officially opened.

Ribbons, tied across each bridge were cut simultaneously.

Once the ribbons had been cut the first visitors crossed the bridges, taking in the beautiful views across the parkland.

After visitors had fully explored both bridges and taken in the unique views offered by each one they joined together for the cake cutting.

The cake was modelled on the pedestrian bridge which connects the parkland to the Ouse Valley Way.

It featured a realistic river, grass and even gates at each end of the bridge.

For more information on Sheffield Park and Garden please visit their website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden