Free crossings for cyclists at Whitney toll bridge

Ledbury Reporter: Whitney Toll bridge owner Grahame Penny with Drover Cycles' Joe Wellard. Whitney Toll bridge owner Grahame Penny with Drover Cycles' Joe Wellard.

WHITNEY-on-Wye’s historic toll bridge has teamed up with a bike shop and cycling club to offer free passage to customers and members.

The Grade II listed river crossing - which has been in use since the late 18th Century - charges cyclists 10p to traverse the River Wye without getting their feet wet.

But bridge owners Maggie Taylor and Grahame Penny have agreed a special deal with Hay-on-Wye’s Drover Cycles - and the shop’s customers can cross for free.

The offer also extends to members of the town’s cycling club, Velo Hay.

Drover Cycles’ Anna Heywood said: "We frequently go over the bridge on our Wednesday evening Velo Hay rides, the auto-toll isn’t set up for collecting fees from cyclists and there wasn’t always someone on hand to take our 10 pence pieces.

"We realised other cyclists weren’t paying either and didn’t want Maggie and Grahame to miss out, so agreed an annual licence with them.

"We decided it’d be a nice bit of extra value to offer to our customers. With the arrangement in place we can promote more local bike rides heading out that way. Besides serving as a convenient river crossing, the bridge is a great place to stop for tea or coffee."

Whitney’s part stone, part timber-trussed toll bridge was built in 1779 on order of Parliament and is still governed to this day by the Department of Transport.

Maggie Taylor added: "The 10p toll has been a bit of a pain to implement and collect, and it did feel a bit churlish to charge cyclists - but our hands were tied. The toll is set by Government and we couldn’t just waive it.

"Luckily we were able to come up with this compromise with Drovers - it’s a great arrangement and we look forward to welcoming cyclists who want to stop off and use our picnic tables beside the river."

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