A walker crosses the Water of Nevis wire bridge. Photo: Ted and Jen CC-BY-2.0

A walker crosses the Water of Nevis wire bridge. Photo: Ted and Jen [CC-2.0]

A conservation charity is warning walkers a popular bridge in the Highlands has been closed after it became unsafe.

The wire bridge at Steall, in Glen Nevis, has been barred to walkers after one of its cables snapped on Wednesday. The precarious crossing, consisting of three steel cables over the Water of Nevis, links land owned by the John Muir Trust with that under the care of Rio Tinto Alcan.

The trust’s Nevis ranger has closed off both sides of the bridge and put up warning signs.

Andrew Campbell, head of land management for the John Muir Trust said: “The wire bridge is a Glen Nevis landmark and many walkers enjoy crossing it.

“It receives a regular maintenance survey every two years and is kept in good repair, but it appears it may have been overloaded, causing the cable to snap.

“We have closed off the bridge until further notice, and will be discussing the way forward with Rio Tinto Alcan and others in the Nevis Partnership and wider community.”

The bridge lies on the route to An Steall waterfall and the munros of An Gearanach and An Garbhanach.

The bridge was at the centre of a bizarre incident in March when thieves stole a 50kg gas-powered generator from the nearby Steall Bothy, leading to speculation that the gang that stole the £1,000 machine may have used the wire bridge to help get the unique generator back to their vehicle in Glen Nevis.

  • Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, pointed out the bridge closure was putting walkers at risk.

She said: “This essential passage needs to be reinstated very quickly or river crossing incidents will become an issue, especially in high water conditions.

“Groups have been crossing up stream towards the waterfall at a number of places. Some parties were even seen descending the true left bank of the gorge towards the upper Glen Nevis car park.

“This is a potentially serious, exposed and slippery area and is not recommended.”

Heather Morning, mountain safety adviser with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, provided further details of the damage to the bridge and the problems this is causing.

She said: “There were 24 Dutch students on the bridge when the eye splice at the Steall end on one of the foot wires broke. Three were taken to Belford [Hospital, Fort William], one with a broken shoulder.

“This essential passage needs to be reinstated very quickly or river crossing incidents will become an issue, especially in high water conditions.

“Groups have been crossing up stream towards the waterfall at a number of places. Some parties were even seen descending the true left bank of the gorge towards the upper Glen Nevis car park.

“This is a potentially serious, exposed and slippery area and is not recommended.”

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