The floods in December 2015 caused extensive damage to the path: two bridges that cross the River Greta and around 200m of path were washed away and Rawsome Bridge was later closed to ensure public safety. There was also significant damage to the river banks.
Our initial priority was to make sections of the path and bridges safe and also find alternative routes for users.
We now have funding and planning consents in place for the permanent reconnection of the route. This will include rebuilding and repairing the remaining 5 kilometres of the trail, and the re-opening and extending of the ‘big tunnel’. Additionally two new bridges will be constructed and another will be extensively repaired and improved. Also, 200 metres of brand new path will be created and work will be carried out to stabilise the river bank and repairing drains and walls along the way.
The damage to the route was within the wider context of the 2015 flood damage to the public right of way network across the whole of the National Park. As a result of the floods, 560km of 3100km of paths were affected, resulting in a full programme of flood recovery and resilience work, which is still ongoing.
The significant damage caused to the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway path has given us a number of complex challenges to address including the high cost of the project, funding challenges, flood resilience, river access, environmental obligations and riverbank stabilisation.
We have had to ensure alternative routes are available to route users, and continue to work with partner organisations and neighbouring landowners to find further routes that benefit the community and visitors.
Please see our latest map with alternative routes.
We are pleased to announce that Cubby Construction Limited will be undertaking the work to create a the new multi-user trail between Keswick and Threlkeld along the old railway line.
These challenges mean we have had to adopt a fully-considered approach to reconnect the route in a sustainable, robust way that will secure access for the long-term enjoyment of all users.
The extensive works will include rebuilding and repairing the remaining 5 kilometres of the trail, and the re-opening and extending of the ‘big tunnel’. Additionally two new bridges will be constructed and another will be extensively repaired and improved. Also, 200 metres of brand new path will be created and work will be carried out to stabilise the river bank and repairing drains and walls along the way.
A £7.9 million funding package has been agreed to allow work to start on the final phase of reconnecting the Keswick to Threlkeld multi user trail. Funding has been approved so far from Highways England and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Additionally, community fundraising by the Lake District Foundation has resulted in a £130,000 donation all which will enable the project to go ahead.
From Tuesday 27 August 2019 the route will be fully closed while on-site work activity increases, including the frequency and volume of machinery moving materials onto the site and particularly at Keswick Station. It was inevitable that this section of route would have to close and the entire work site will be subject to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, which govern how a construction site must be managed to protect workers and anyone the work affects from harm. The health and safety of the site will be the responsibility of our contractor – Cubby Ltd.
Currently we plan to close the route until works are complete in December 2020, however, we recognise the inconvenience caused by the closure and will continue to look for any opportunity to reopen sections, where it is safe, practical and efficient to do so. We hope to be able to re-open the section between Keswick Leisure Centre and Forge Lane once the bridge refurbishment and path maintenance is complete. We will continue to update the webpage and will send out regular updates throughout the project.
We plan to have completed the work by the end of 2020.
There are alternative routes for walkers and cyclists and we are adding new routes as they are confirmed. Currently access exists for Coast to Coast cyclists from Keswick, via the Castlerigg Stone Circle, to the permitted route at Threlkeld Bridge. Walkers can still access the Latrigg paths via Spoony Green Lane. We are working with Cumbria County Council to open the Brundholme Road up to walkers and cyclists.
Please see our latest map with alternative routes
The permitted paths around Brundholme Woods are currently not accessible, due to flood damage. We have undertaken work, with the Lake District National Park volunteers, to discourage access to unsafe parts of the path. This entailed the removal of sleeper bridges and stiles. We urge people to please take notice of the signs and cordons, which are in place for public safety. We are planning to open an alternative route, for walkers, through Brundholme Woods.
During the floods, a 100m section of path was washed away at Hag Loning (Wescoe end of the railway path). The land adjacent to the path is private property and extremely important to the farmer as they are used as lambing fields. We are concerned that attempts are being made to access Brundholme Woods via these fields. Pregnant ewes and lambs are particularly vulnerable to disturbance, especially from dog walkers. We are urging the public not to climb the fence and to respect that the fields are private property.
Our aim is to restore the route primarily as a path for all: wheelchair users, pushchairs, cyclists and walkers alike. We will not do anything that would compromise the line becoming a railway in the future.
Yes, the reconnection plans include extensive repairs and improvements to Rawsome Bridge.
To date the route across Rawsome Bridge remains closed off and we have placed a warning notice at the canoe access point at Threlkeld Bridge (NGR NY 314 246).
The damaged bridge is just over one kilometre downstream from this point - the third footpath bridge. Due to two further bridge collapses downstream there are underwater hazards present in the main stream of the river, such as trees and debris from landslides – even parts of caravans. Local kayakers have warned that the river is now very different to what it was before the flood - it is harder and much more committing. We have provided warning signs upstream of the bridge and ask users to take notice of these signs.
Red squirrels are an important native species and it is an offence to intentionally damage anywhere they may use for shelter or protection. The trail reconnection involves felling trees around the path. Before any felling work is undertaken, the trees will be surveyed for any signs of activity and we will ensure that plans are in place to prevent any unnecessary disturbance. We will be replacing the felled trees with new, broadleaf, saplings. In time they will increase the availability of food and shelter for red squirrels throughout the year. The mixture of species and ages of trees in the woodlands surrounding the railway path provides valuable habitat and natural corridors which will enable the red squirrel population to move away from any disturbance to other areas of woodland.
The Railway Path will be a new multi user trail, which means it will be suitable for a wide variety of users such as walkers, cyclists and people with limited mobility. It also needs to be as resilient as possible to withstand future extreme weather and flooding, therefore a bound, tarmac-type of material was selected as most suitable to meet all needs.
This specification is in line with the national advice from Highways England, which states: “The long-term integrity, comfort, safety and aesthetic appeal of cycle routes is dependent on the chosen construction design. Unbound surfaces shall not be provided on cycle routes.” (Highways England Interim Advice Note 195/16 Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network).
In Highways England’s 2018 Cycling and Accessibility Annual Report it states: “We have published new design standards for cycle traffic (Interim Advice Note 195/16 Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network) which will ensure the needs of cyclists are fully accommodated in all future scheme designs. These standards were developed in collaboration with Sustrans, British Cycling and Cycling UK. The new standards have been accompanied by a comprehensive training and e-learning programme for designers.”
The design, consent and planning permission process gave all users of the Keswick to Threlkeld multi user trail the opportunity to have their say on the proposed new tarmac surface and its suitability for the location in a national park and World Heritage Site. While the trail does run through a rural landscape, the route followed is obviously man-made, with a clear transport related history. Therefore, the use of a tarmac surface was considered appropriate in the locality and the project was given planning permission.
If you would like any further information please contact Area Ranger, Cath Johnson, on 01768 871 407 or email Cath.Johnson@lakedistrict.gov.uk
If you would like to be notified of any significant updates regarding the Keswick to Threlkeld path developments.