The recent heavy flooding in southwest England has left a trail of damage to Exmoor's footpath network, say the National Park Authority. Worse, the bill for repairs exceeds the annual maintenance budget.
Tarr Steps, the longest clapper bridge in the country, was among the casualties.
Early estimates show that repairs to the rights of way network around the bridge and across Exmoor National Park are likely to cost thousands of pounds. National Park Rangers are currently busy assessing the damage in more detail.
'Somerset County Council, in collaboration with English Heritage and Exmoor National Park Authority are already working on plans to rebuild the bridge itself, but the footpaths and bridleways in the area have been badly affected by fallen trees, small landslips and surfaces being washed away' says a Park statement.
'The expenditure needed exceeds the funding available each year to maintain public paths and a number of local people and businesses have offered financial help towards the repairs.'
People who would like to make a contribution can do so via the Exmoor National Park CareMoor Fund, the Conservation and Access Fund for the National Park. Through this, contributions from businesses, visitors and local communities have already provided thousands of pounds towards different projects within the National Park.
'Just recently funds had been committed to developing new interpretive material at Tarr Steps to enhance the area and provide better information to visitors including the promotion of a short circular route which will now require extensive repairs' say the Park Authority.
But although many paths in the area have been damaged, virtually all of them can still be used and the Park is keen to get the message across that Exmoor remains very much open to walkers.
Dan James, Sustainable Economy Officer at the National Park says:
'For residents and visitors alike, the path network is an important part of enjoying Exmoor National Park and we are keen to get things back to normal as soon as possible. If anyone would like to support us they can send a donation, however large or small.'
'We hope to make online donations possible very shortly. Businesses can participate too, either through a one off donation, or helping to raise funds from their customers through a variety of different methods.'
For now donations need to be made by cheque, payable to 'Exmoor National Park (CareMoor)' at Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset, TA22 9HL
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