Learning how to build a boardwalk at Caerlaverock

Our NatureScot student placement scheme provides great opportunities for recent graduates to get invaluable work experience that puts their new skills into practice.

Countryside Management graduate Fraser Wilson continues his series of posts about his work as a National Nature Reserve Assistant, helping to maintain and improve these special locations for the many thousands of visitors they receive each year…

Improving the initial piece of boardwalk that leads visitors from the merse path to the boardwalk loop at Caerlaverock NNR was a job we’d been meaning to do for a while. The issue with the existing piece was that visitors tended to come off the grass bank onto the board where there is no anti-slip mesh or gripper strips. We could have just re gripped this area but there would still have been a large gap between the bank and the boards that we felt needed fixing to avoid anyone slipping or tripping.

The photo above shows the board walk in situ before we did anything to it. The first step was to remove the existing wire mesh, top boards, and anti-weed membrane below. We then removed all existing posts as they were rotten.

This exposed a big muddy ditch, highlighting the importance of having a suitable board walk here for people to safely cross.

Next, we placed the stingers roughly where we wanted them to go. Once happy with the levelling and placement, we knocked in six posts, cut them to the correct height, and then bolted the stringers to them to make a nice solid frame. 

We then placed all the board walk boards and screwed them in place before laying down a length of weld mesh that we pinned down with galvanised u-nails. This helps create a rough footing for people to walk across, without which the boardwalk would become extremely slippery.

The photos above show the finished job 🙂 It is a job that I am really happy to have been a part of. I’ve helped relocate old pieces of boardwalk to new areas on other reserves, but I’d never actually helped build one from scratch. It was a great learning experience.

To top the job off, the weather was incredible and the amount of bird life that was one the reserve was amazing. It was probably the warmest day of the year at the time, and a nice hint to what summer might bring!

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