The Pennine Way, which was officially opened in 1965, is intersected by one of Britain’s busiest motorways, close to Rishworth Moor.
The Pennine Way footbridge, which spans the M62 is an instantly recognisable landmark for both commuters and walkers alike. This narrow bridge has a span of 320ft and carries Britain’s first long-distance footpath 65ft above the carriageway.
During the design stages for the building of the M62 the Pennine Way had not yet being granted Public Right of Way status and therefore no plans had been considered to erect a footbridge, to allow safe passage across the future trans-Pennine motorway. The original intention was that Pennine Wayfarers would have to follow the A672 underneath the motorway and re-join the footpath further north. However it is said that Ernest Marples, a former Manchester Rambling Club member, and owner of Marples/Ridgeway Civil Engineering Contractors, played an instrumental part in ensuring that the pedestrian bridge was built.
Apparently the original design for the bridge was to span the motorway horizontally. However, some sources say that the Transport Minister, who was in office at the time, was a prolific walker and insisted that a more impressive structure be built. This decision is said to have considerably increased the construction costs. Whatever the original design, the final structure consists of a reinforced concrete three pin arch which has a span of 220ft, complete with side cantilevers. Each cantilever supports pre-stressed concrete approach spans each of which are 85ft long.
Since its original construction this now iconic landmark has provided safe passage, above the swarming traffic, for thousands upon thousands of walkers making their 270 mile pilgrimage along Britain’s best known National Trail.
Thanks to Ray Green, who's photo inspired this short article. You can see many more of Ray's fabulous photos at www.raygreenphotography.co.uk