Written on 11/10/19 by Paul Oldham

Controversy over Path Restoration

The saga of the re-surfacing of the Keswick to Threlkeld railway path came to a head last night when Keswick Town Council passed a motion of no confidence in the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) over its decision to resurface the path.

This path along the old railway line is a very well used leisure route but it was badly disrupted in 2015 by Storm Desmond which destroyed two of the old railway bridges which it used to cross and re-cross the River Greta, and left another bridge at risk of collapse. In addition around 200 metres of the path surface disappeared into the floodwaters.

Keswick Railway Path Bridge
One of the bridges which was lost

Two of our walks used this path: The Old Keswick Railway Line and Latrigg, which we had to re-work after the loss of the bridges, and another which we've had to take offline until both bridges are restored.

About a year and a half ago we wrote about the appeal to raise funds to restore the path and things have moved on since then with the LDNPA now well advanced with their plans however the thing that has cause consternation is their plan to tarmac the path rather than keeping it as a cinder path.

This is opposed by pretty much everyone for a variety of reasons including the Friends of the Lake District, Keswick Town Council, Thelkeld Parish Council, Underskiddaw Parish Council, the Open Spaces Society, the Ramblers Association, Cumbria Bridleway Society, the Horse Access Campaign UK, and various other organisations including some cycling organisations, and 3000+ signatures on a petition; however the LDNPA are carrying on regardless, hence the vote of no confidence.

ITV covered this story today and their story Council passes no confidence vote over Keswick path plan is well worth visiting online so you can watch the interview with LDNPA Chief Warden Mark Eccles.

For a longer and more reasoned explanation as to why they're proposing to tarmac the path there's a new blog post of the LDNPA web site Looking forward to the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Trail which is unsigned but was apparently written by their Chief Executive.

The impression we were left reading their post is that a major factor is simply one of long term cost in that they think it will be cheaper to maintain. Our experience from elsewhere in the country is that this simply isn't true: tarmac for paths (rather than roads) generally does not last well.

Friends of the Lake District say that using tarmac will compromise the historic and rural character of the route and it will be more dangerous in icy weather and we agree with them. We think this is a bad plan and LDNPA should reconsider.

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