A VICTORIAN railway bridge in the middle of a New Forest campsite has reopened after a major repair project costing £120,000.
The historic arch at Setthorns, near Sway, spans the former Brockenhurst to Ringwood line, which fell victim to the infamous Beeching cuts of the 1960s.
It forms part of National Cycle Route 2, which allows riders to travel from Dover, in Kent, to St Austell, in Cornwall.
But the bridge – and part of the cycle route – had to be closed for 18 months while engineers carried out vital repair work.
The work was undertaken by an organisation called Camping in the Forest, which provides holidays at 16 woodland locations across the UK.
A spokesman said the bridge helped provide access to the main part of the campsite, as well as enabling walkers and cyclists to move around the area.
Bob Hill, Camping in the Forest’s sites director, added: “The original bridge was more than 150 years old and fell into a state of disrepair.
“But the work we’ve carried out means customers wishing to access the main part of the site will no longer be forced to make a detour along forest tracks.
“National Cycle Route 2 runs directly under the bridge and the section at Setthorns had to be closed, so the completed redevelopment work will only benefit the area. Setthorns is a lovely, peaceful site and we’re confident that improving access will make it even more popular with customers old and new.”
A Forestry Commission spokesman added: “The reopening of the bridge will give visitors, both walkers and cyclists, further access to explore the flora and fauna of this beautiful part of the New Forest.”
The railway line, which opened in 1847, was promoted by solicitor Charles Castleman and was known as Castleman’s Corkscrew because of its winding route.