Watch the video of the official opening of the Keswick to Threlkeld trail, hear from the team behind the project and the local communities of Keswick and Threlkeld celebrating on a snowy day in December, 5 years on from Storm Desmond.
Cath Johnson, Area Ranger with the Lake District National Park Authority said: “The project to repair and improve the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway trail has established a traffic free route, accessible to walkers, cyclists and people with limited mobility. The extensive reconnection project included rebuilding and repairing five kilometres of the trail, re-opening and extending the Bobbin Mill railway tunnel and the construction of two new bridges destroyed during Storm Desmond.
“We are aware of concerns raised by some members of the public regarding the safety of the trail surface, due to the recent icy weather conditions.
“The trail provides an amazing recreation amenity and its management is an on-going priority for us. In the short term we are inspecting the trail daily and undertaking temporary surface treatments, where required, along the route. All replacement bridges have a durable, resin, grip surface along their length. The remaining bridges are wooden decked with a grooved design that provides grip in normal dry conditions. We are currently cleaning the decking to ensure that the treads are draining and preventing the build-up of snow and ice during the winter months. As part of our on-going care and maintenance plan we will be assessing the condition of all decking and carrying out work as necessary.
“We will install additional signage to remind people to socially distance on the trail. We would also remind people that as we’re now in a national lockdown, you should follow the latest government guidelines and exercise locally.”
Exactly five years after Storm Desmond hit Cumbria and destroyed the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway trail, the new and improved route is being opened for the local community and visitors to enjoy.
To mark the occasion, two local school children from Threlkeld and St Herbert’s Primary Schools were the first through the Bobbin Mill tunnel which has been re-opened for the first time in nearly 50 years as part of the £7.9 million project to fully reconnect the route.
Monty and Holly both aged 10, were joined by the Mayor of Keswick, Paul Titley, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, Richard Leafe, along with various other community and partner representatives for a socially distanced celebration.
The Keswick to Threlkeld Railway trail has been fully reconnected and enhanced, new picnic benches, seats and perches at viewpoints have been installed as well as new comprehensive on-site interpretation to fully tell the national park local history and heritage story of the trail and give information on local wildlife and flora and fauna.
In 2015 Storm Desmond brought the worst floods the county has seen, with around 178.4 mm of rain falling in Keswick. As a result two of the original Victorian railway bridges that cross the River Greta and around 200 metres of path were completely washed away, Rawsomes Bridge was deemed unsafe and the well-used route between Keswick and Threlkeld was completely cut off.
As much as possible the Lake District National Park found some alternative routes but through feedback it was clear how important the route was to the communities of Keswick and Threlkeld, visitors to the area and to local businesses. As part of the design stage, a survey showed that the reconnection of the trail could be worth around £2 million to the local economy.
The extensive reconnection project has included:
Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority said: “This has been the most ambitious construction project we’ve undertaken as a National Park Authority. It’s taken five years to complete due to the scale, but we’re thrilled to be able to reopen the trail on the anniversary of Storm Desmond. I’d like to thank all of our funders and project partners for their input and the local community for their initial fundraising and for their patience whilst the work was ongoing. I very much look forward to using the trail and seeing others make use of this fantastic safe, local route which provides a sustainable transport link between Keswick and Threlkeld.”
A £7.9 million package was agreed to enable the project to go ahead and consisted of funding from the European Structural Investment Funds which supports innovation, businesses, low carbon activity to improve local growth and create jobs. Funding was also received from Highways England, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and the Lake District Foundation.
Bruce Parker, Highways England’s head of planning and development for the North West, said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to giving cyclists and pedestrians a better deal along our major A roads network, including the A66, we were delighted to be able to provide almost half the money needed to restore and enhance the link between Keswick and Threlkeld. It is fitting that the route has re-opened today exactly five years after it was so badly damaged by Storm Desmond.
“The route provides a much safer and far more pleasant alternative to cyclists and pedestrians using the busy A66 and we hope it is used and enjoyed for many years to come.”
Jim Jackson, Chair of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s Investment Panel, said: “We are delighted that with the assistance of a £300,000 contribution from the Local Growth Fund, the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Path is set to reopen to the public. This much-loved route will strengthen the visitor experience and economic performance of the Lake District National Park. We’re looking forward to seeing both Keswick and Threlkeld communities benefit as visitors enjoy the route once again.”
Additionally the Lake District foundation led a fundraising campaign which was supported by the local community, with businesses, residents, visitors and organisations all playing their part in raising money through everything from duck races to online auctions.
Sarah Swindley, the Lake District Foundation’s CEO, commented: “The community fundraising campaign raised an incredible £130,000. We were thrilled to have had so much support from the local community, businesses, residents, visitors and organisations; everyone played their part to make it happen. We would like to say a huge thank-you to everyone who donated during the campaign. We are looking forward to the opening this Saturday and for everyone to enjoy the new path for years to come.”
The Capita team who project managed and Cubby Construction, who carried out the building works associated with this project, are based locally and delivered a high quality work that meets user need and respects the special place the trail passes through.
There’s now only weeks to go until the £7.9 million Keswick to Threlkeld trail is fully reopened for the first time since 2015 and, following input from the local community, new branding has been agreed for the popular route.
The new logo, which will feature on way-markers and information panels along the trail, consists of a native water crowfoot flower and a railway wheel, which perfectly blends local flora and fauna, gives a nod to railway engineering and clearly depicts a place where nature and heritage thrive.
The on-site interpretation will include bitesize local nature information along the trail, larger panels on the railway and the bobbin history and information on Storm Desmond’s impact to the trail and local area.
Due to covid-19 restrictions, an online information sharing session took place last month to gauge opinion on the proposals for on-site interpretation and included members of Keswick Town Council, Friends of the Lake District and various community representatives along with Lake District National Park Area Ranger Cath Johnson.
A number of alterations and additions to the onsite communications plan were suggested by community representatives, discussed fully and have been included in the final interpretations.
Participants in the session also discussed access points, picnic and rest spots along the length of the trail and how best to bring the trail to life without impinging on the natural beauty of the route. A main point of discussion on the day was how best to encourage good manners from all user groups and these ideas have been included on the site panels.
Cath Johnson, Area Ranger with the Lake District National Park said: “We would like to thank everyone involved in the information session who helped us shape our on-site interpretation, their local knowledge was really helpful and we’re very happy with how the interpretation has taken shape to really enhance the trail for all users.
“We’d also like to thank the local community, once again, for their support with the project through fundraising, which was crucial in enabling the project to go ahead. We know that the local community is now every bit as excited as us to see the trail back in use for the first time in nearly five years and it’s full steam ahead for December.”
Thanks to a £7.9 million funding package from Highways England, the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Local Enterprise Partnership and community support from the Lake District Foundation work is due to be completed on the Keswick to Threlkeld trail in December.
Our image shows an artists’ impression of the new entrance sign to the Keswick to Threlkeld Trail, which is due to reopen in December.
The £7.9 million project to reconnect the much loved Keswick to Threlkeld railway trail is nearing completion with only two months to go to its long awaited reopening.
A one kilometre (0.6 mile) urban section of the trail opened last month and is already being well used by the local community.
As part of the project, a new section of the route has been constructed to replace the trackbed which was washed away during Storm Desmond, when floodwater from the River Greta engulfed the trail and surrounding farmland.
We have worked with neighbouring landowners to create a new 300m section to fully reconnect the accessible route. The surrounding area is important for local sheep farming so fences and underpasses have been constructed so that farmers can continue using the land for lambing and grazing.
Work to protect the riverbank from future flooding is also underway. Stone filled baskets will provide additional strength to the banks, whilst fixed bundles of brushwood will help absorb the powerful, energy of the river and prevent further bank erosion.
In addition 35 oak saplings will be planted alongside the existing oak woodland. The mixture of tree ages will help provide valuable habitat and food source for many insects, birds and other animals, including the iconic red squirrel.
Great news! Now that the majority of the work along the Keswick urban section is complete – the national park working closely with Cubby Construction Ltd have been able to remove some of the safety barriers and fencing.
Although the Trail will not be officially opened until later in the year, their removal means that a 1 kilometre section of the trail, between Keswick Station (leisure centre) and the A591 near Forge Lane at Chestnut Hill, now has permitted public access.
This section is still within the construction area and some minor works will continue along there. Therefore it remains under Cubby’s direct management and we ask that the public observe on-site notices, do as asked by Cubby’s staff, respect any safety fencing still on site and look out for further updates about access.
Our contractor, Cubby Construction, have been carrying out in-river works to strengthen and stabilise flood damaged river banks and to protect them and the trail against any future damage. River Greta in-river working is carried out under an Environment Agency flood activity permit. This work has to be carried out between mid-June and late September to avoid any ecological impacts and reduce any potential flood risk.
Part of the work has involved repairing an area of erosion (or scour hole) in the bank below the big tunnel. The damaged area was backfilled with locally sourced rock and material; additional strength and protection was provided by rock roll, which will also defend the bank against future flooding events.
Recently we have said a final goodbye to the raised boardwalk which was dismantled following the re-opening of the tunnel. For those of you who remember, the boardwalk was constructed in 2000 to replace the stepped route over the steep bank under the A66 flyover bridge. The boardwalk, along with the adjacent earthwork improvements, created an improved access for cyclists and wheelchair users. The new trail will be suitable for all users, using the tunnel once again.
Work will be now be carried out to ensure the area surrounding the boardwalk is returned to its natural state.
Thank you to Cubby Construction for this video showing progress so far on many areas of the project.
Thank you to Cubby Construction for this video of Low Pearson's Bridge being launched over the River Greta. It's important to highlight that this was filmed on March 6, prior to any social distancing restrictions due to Covid-19.
We will be starting woodland management work adjacent to the trail, behind Latrigg Close, Keswick in early February. The woodlands along the old railway line are in our (or adjacent) landownership and have been actively managed for over 20 years. Works such as coppicing, thinning and felling constitutes good woodland management and supports a varied and healthy wildlife habitat. Managing the trees also ensures the safety of people using the trail.
Coppicing this relatively young, self-seeded woodland strip will promote strong, healthy regrowth and provide greater screening between the trail and residential housing at Latrigg Close. Non-native species, such as Leylandii and laurel will be removed to promote a more natural, native species woodland strip, whilst opening the canopy and allowing more sunlight in to enhance the ground flora.
An ecological survey has been carried out in advance of the works and confirmed that there are no bat roosts or red squirrel drays in this area. Autumn and winter are optimum times to carry out woodland management so careful consideration has been given to other hibernating species, such as hedgehogs. Residents of Latrigg Close were consulted in advance of the works.
Work to construct 200m of new trail is well underway at Brundholme Bottoms where the original route and trackbed was washed away during Storm Desmond. We have built in underpasses to allow the farmer to access land and livestock either side of the trail. Vulnerable lengths of riverbank will also be protected against future flooding.
The zig zag path at the Threlkeld end of the trail has now been surfaced. Work to re-seed and landscape the area will begin in spring 2020. The gentle gradients of the path will provide greater ease of use for people with limited mobility.
We are pleased to announce that we will be organising some hard hat tours of the trail in the New Year with our construction partner Cubby Construction. This will give people an opportunity to visit the trail as it is being rebuilt and get up close to the people involved in the project. Keep a look out for the dates.
The western arch of the big tunnel or Bobbin tunnel sees light after 40 years of being buried during the construction of the Greta Bridge in the 1970s.
The path closures are in place to ensure that the health and safety of the public as the area is now an active construction site, under the management and responsibility of our contractor - Cubby Construction. We will continue to update the webpage and our Facebook group and will send out regular updates throughout the project.
Note: the programme below is current as of 4 October 2019. Completion dates may need to be revised during the project to reflect any changes to the schedule of work. All works will be completed and the site handed back to the management of the LDNPA by December 2020.
Big tunnel excavation: Sept 2019 – Nov 2020. All works to the tunnel including extension and stonework completed by April 2020. Expected to re-open August 2020.
Low Pearson’s Bridge: Bridge totally destroyed during floods. Structural work to abutments and revetments Sept 2019 – Nov 2019. Completed by April 2020.
Brundholme Bridge. Replace the bridge lost in floods. The bridge was badly damaged and the river span increased by approximately 20m. Structural work to abutments and revetments Sept 2019 – Nov 2019. Completed by April 2020.
Brundholme Bottoms:Construction of a new section of path to replace 200m washed away during floods. Complete Sept 2020. Bank stabilisation and protection works.
Rawsome’s Bridge: Bridge damaged and weakened during floods.
Threlkeld zig zag path: Construction of a graded path to increase accessibility for all users. Sept – Dec 2019.
See our plan to reconnect the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway trail below.
Latest maps showing alternative routes, Keswick town centre routes and plans for works.
You will find information panels near the trail indicating where alternative routes are available.Latest maps and plans
We are committed to working with the community, landowners, businesses and other local organisations to reconnect the route between Keswick and Threlkeld for the enjoyment of walkers, cyclists and those with limited mobility. Due to the extensive scale of the damage it is estimated that this could take up to two years. In the interest of public safety we have closed off all damaged and missing bridges and we ask everyone to take note of the warning signs and not to remove any of the safety fencing or notices.
We are now working to develop plans for reconnecting the route at locations where the bridges are missing or damaged. We will keep the public updated by sharing project information, including the information presented at the public meetings held by Capita in January 2017.
If you would like to be notified of any significant updates regarding the Keswick to Threlkeld trail developments.