Aquascience undertook Lepe Boardwalk working as subcontractors for W. Stirland Ltd who were working for Hampshire County Council. The design brief was for a gently sloping boardwalk providing disabled access to the new visitor centre at Lepe Beach Country Park, in Hampshire. The second part of the brief was to follow the line of a steep bank that was behind the visitor centre, tucking the boardwalk up against the bank to avoid needing a handrail on both sides. This led to a final design that snaked through, in between and even around several mature pine trees, all designated with Tree Preservation Orders. Some of the other challenges we faced included locating and avoiding drainage networks and power cables and accounting for increased loading capacities to accommodate mobility scooter usage.
The boardwalk totalled 70m in length and was constructed primarily of timber, with all the structural elements in green oak. At its highest point, the walkway is suspended 2.5m above ground level. Each supporting post was hand dug due to the inaccessibility of working between the new building and the bank, they were secured in place using postcrete. For the decking, treated softwood Gripdeck boards with anti-slip inserts were used, with many requiring cuts or even scribing to get the best possible fit to a boardwalk with fluctuating widths and several corners.
The furnishings on the boardwalk were constructed from a combination of air dried oak and stainless steel. Between the bespoke cuts of the angled capping rail, the precision of the mopstick hand rail and the first ever use of a stainless steel wire net mesh, the furnishings required careful and skilled work, which Aquascience completed to our usual exacting standard.
Upon completion, Aquascience tested the boardwalk’s loading capacity by using 3000+litres in a tank test. We also used a load cell to test the structural integrity of the hand rail to over 1kN of force.