Simple Pioneering - Build a Monkey Bridge From Wood Poles




Introduction: Simple Pioneering - Build a Monkey Bridge From Wood Poles

About: Hi, I'm Tim. I work on the railways during the day, run a scout troop and have a blog (see above website link) where I discuss my allotment and projects!

In my last pioneering project we built a simple swing

In this instructable we're going to use exactly the same knots, numbers of poles and methods to build a monkey bridge.  Like the last one we're using the same tree and concreted metal fence posts to anchor.  You could use three-two-ones however to anchor it down.

You will need:

Six poles (3.5+) in length
Rope - we used numerous lengths:
  • 6x6 foot lengths for lashings.
  • 3x loooonnnngggg lengths for the handrails and one thick bit for walking on
  • lots of small 2.5-3ft lengths to join the foot rail to the hand rails.
A ladder comes in handy too!

Step 1: Prototyping

Below is what we're attempting to achieve - with garden canes.  Without the river.

Step 2: Laying Out the A-Frames & Lashing

The a frames will look like below - we're reducing the height the initial lashing will be as compared to the simple swing we did before.  This is because we'll be lashing the hand holds to the top of the a frame (now more like an X frame with a support 'strike through').  This'll all become clear.

Step 3: Roping the Hand Holds and Footrail

Get your a-frames into position and roughly work out how long the rope will be between them.  Use similar lengths, but leave enough at each end to tie to your anchors.

Hand holds are loosely tied to the top of the a-frames using something simple like a cloves hitch.  These can be tightened later, especially if you have a handy ladder.

The foot rope just lays on the a-frame.  This has to be very tight so it's the last to be lashed.

Step 4: Tightening Up and A-frame Position

It's important to make sure that the a-frames are at an angle leaning towards your anchors.  When we stress the foot rope this'll pull them up, but they shouldn't be totally vertical as seen below.

The foot rope has to be tight.  When you step on it, it's going to sag, so you need it VERY tight.

Step 5: Joining Up Footrope to Handrails

The foot rope is joined to the handrails using whatever knot you fancy.  I just use clove hitches or whatever I fancy at the time.  It's just to stop the foot rope stretching too far from the handrails so the kids can still reach them.

Step 6: Enjoy!

We got this up in about an hour, spent about 25 minutes playing on it and got 5 minutes to tidy up.

We sent our lot up in order of approximate weight so the foot rope wasn't too stretched which will happen the more people use it.  You can keep tightening it up, just make sure you don't release it when someones on it ;0)


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    10 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry if I missed it in the details, but what kind of rope is being used?

    Larry Green
    Larry Green

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Regarding making a rope grommet for use wit a log-and-stake anchor, my pioneering mentor, the late Adolph Peschke said, "A large grommet can be made by splicing together the ends of a 10′ length of 1/2″ manila or polypropylene rope." I've used both types. But for lashing together the spars for pioneering structures, we ALWAYS use manilla!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Have you ever tried a log and stake anchor?

    At my council camp in Arkansas we have had amazing results with them. they are easier to install in the ground because you don't have to use as long steaks. for that same reason they are easier to pull up.
    but they have tremendous strength.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, that's actually where I first learned of the log and stake anchors. Back when I used to teach Pioneering Merit badge from that very book.
    I have always taken a bit of manila rope and spliced it into a ring for the grommet. I always used the thickest piece I had access to, or doubled them up if all I had was 3/4" rope.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    If and when you make a monkey bridge, make sure it is safe before allowing others to use it. I am a scout, and me and a group of forty guys made one. As the twenty-something person went across a rope with a weak spot in it snapped. Nobody was hurt, but just a heads up to anyone attempting this project.