AN award-winning bridge over a spectacular gorge that was hauled into place by hand is to be demolished after only a decade.

The bridge over Bracklinn Falls near Callander, Stirling, has been closed in recent months after an inspection identified "some areas of deterioration requiring further examination". 

The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority has now confirmed the distinctive wood and copper structure will be removed and replaced.

Weighing 20 tonnes, the bridge was opened in November 2010 and cost £110,000 to install – a process that was no mean feat. 

Its location in deep woodland, with no road access, meant the use of cranes or helicopters was out of the question. 

A previous steel bridge had been washed away by floods six years earlier.

Kenny Auld, of the national park authority, told the media at the time: "It's a 20m span across a very deep gorge.

"For the last six years the community and the national park have been trying to get a replacement in place.

"I've taken three batches of Royal Engineers to the site and they've just laughed in my face and told me I'm crazy."

A small access track – accessible to four-wheel drives and quad bikes – was built to allow materials to be transported from the nearest road, around a mile away.

The structure was then built next to the falls, before being placed on steel skids and hauled across the gorge using a hand winch. 

It was reported 3,000 man hours were required to build the bridge and get it into position. 

Designed and built by Strong Bridges Ltd, it later picked up a gong at the International Footbridge Awards after being entered in the "aesthetics short-span" category.

The bridge, which has a copper roof and is made from Douglas firs from the Heritage Plantation in Dunkeld, provides a spectacular vantage point over the falls and was popular with walkers.

It will now be demolished and replaced, with park bosses expecting a new bridge to be in position next year.

A £70,000 contract notice to demolish the bridge has been posted on the Public Contracts Scotland website.

Mr Auld said: “Bracklinn Bridge has brought significant health and economic benefits to the Callander area over the past 10 years and has provided an anchor for the destination.  

"The bridge was closed after an inspection identified some areas of deterioration and following specialist engineering and timber surveys, we have been advised that replacing the current structure is the safest course of action. 

"Installing a new Bracklinn Bridge is being progressed as a priority and we expect this to be in place next year."

The park authority said the new bridge will benefit from previous works still in place, such as abutments and paths, but will "still require careful installation given the remote and exposed location", adding: "Full details on this will not be known until a new design and construction methodology is developed."

It said: "We will be embarking on a design process for a replacement bridge that is both complementary to the special location and robust."

Park bosses are asking walkers not to use the bridge or climb over the temporary barriers currently in place.

Frank Park, chair of the Callander Community Development Trust, said it had raised concerns about the condition of the structure.

He said: "We requested maintenance work be carried out on it. 

"We got concerned at what we saw as the deterioration of some parts of the bridge.

"We took some photos of the walkway across where it was deteriorating and the park reacted and fixed that.

"They then undertook a couple of surveys of the bridge, looking at the condition of it, and it was after those surveys that they decided that the condition was too severe to do anything other than replace it."

He added: "The most noticeable thing was the walkway - there was deterioration there, but the park responded pretty quickly and patched that."

Mr Park said the bigger problem was water ingress affecting the wooden pillars of the bridge. 

He said: "I think the issue there is it's quite a damp area because of the waterfall, and perhaps a wooden bridge wasn't the ideal thing to put up there.

"So I think they'll probably look at a metal bridge next time."