Cyclists in Carlisle are campaigning to have a disused railway viaduct across the River Eden reopened as a cycle route and footpath. The Waverley Viaduct, which is Grade II listed, previously carried the Carlisle-Galashiels-Edinburgh railway line, but closed in 1969.
Since then, pedestrians have used the viaduct as an unofficial footpath, although there have been occasional efforts to prevent them doing so by the British Rail Board, the body responsible for the land, and which last summer erected steel fences at each end of the viaduct to permanently restrict access.
The News & Star reports that according to its retrospective application for planning permission for the fence, the British Rail Board says: “The structure is in a rural location carrying private lands over the river. The temporary fencing is in place for public safety and asset security until a permanent security solution is implemented at a later date.”
The newspaper adds that Carlisle City Council has received three objections to the application, and that if one more is received by 24 February the matter will need to be debated by councillors. If no further objection is raised, then planning officers will be able to make a decision using delegated powers.
One objector is Geoff Brazendale, a member of local cycling campaign group Cycle Carlisle, who told the News & Star: “It’s a jolly nice walk and a very accessible means of getting from one side of Carlisle to the other. They have really snookered that now. It should be a public right of way and a cycle way.”
Mr Brazendale continued: “I know it would be expensive to repair but it did withstand two enormous floods last year and in 2005, so structurally it’s not in bad condition,” adding, “it’s a crying shame that this wonderful structure is being just left to fall to bits.”
Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has in the past considered incorporating the viaduct into its Connect2 cycle route from Kingmoor to Currock, but those plans were shelved in 2006 in favour of a proposed bridge close to Bitts Park.
Cycle Carlisle has now launched an online petition asking Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council to buy the viaduct and turn it into a route for cyclists and pedestrians.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.