Written on 18/06/20 by Paul Oldham

The Keswick to Threlkeld Path Tunnel

Back in December 2015 Storm Desmond did significant damage all over the Lake District and for us one of the big losses the destruction of two of the bridges over the River Greta on the path from Keswick to Threlkeld along the old railway line which resulted in the temporary loss and the later diversion of one our earliest walks.

Keswick Railway Path Bridge
One of the bridges which was lost

The good news is that the path is now being restored, although with some controversy over the decision to tarmac it rather than keeping it as a gravel path.

As part of that restoration some improvements are being made and, in particular, a long closed tunnel is being re-opened. The tunnel is at the Keswick end of the line. When you walk along the trackbed (now a path) you previously had to take a detour around the promontory through which the 80m long tunnel passed. (If you've already walked the path this at the same location where you walk under the A66 Keswick bypass.)

the east tunnel portal

For reasons best known to BR after they closed the line they filled the tunnel and also raised the track bed (and hence the path) to the level of the top of the tunnel. You can see that clearly in this 2011 photo above where the very top of the arch of the east portal of the old railway tunnel is just visible behind the bench.

Keswick to Threlkeld Path Tunnel - East Portal

Fifty years later and some serious construction work has been done to re-open it. For example in the photo above Cubby Construction's digger is hard at work at the very same location as the previous photo and you can see that the ground is now much lower and indeed comparing the two photos the ground level was originally above digger cab's roof.

Keswick to Threlkeld Path Tunnel - The Tunnel Re-Opened

This is where they are now, with the tunnel completely re-opened after 3,000 tonnes of material has been removed and a new floor laid. That floor is still higher than it was back when it was a railway tunnel but, as you can see, it's now going to be an excellent new walking and cycling route.

If the good weather holds, the whole path is on course to open in December and the tunnel will be back in action nearly 150 years after it was built.

Old photo of tunnel portal by Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Other photos of tunnel work copyright Cubby Constuction.

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