Letter to the Cumberland News (21/02/14)

I was interested to read Viv Crow’s River Eden walk “A bridge not too far for families” describing a route from Bitts  Park and utilising the new  rather convoluted footpath using the bypass and Stainton village. Natural England have to decide where the England Coastal Path crosses the Eden. Ramboll, a consultancy firm, have been tasked by Cumbria County Council to investigate possible crossings.  I was sent their map for comment which indicated possible crossings at (believe it or not) Bowness, Sandsfield , West End Farm near Grinsdale and the new bypass. The Waverley viaduct was not even on the map. When I pointed this out to Heather Nickson of Ramboll  she said that they did not consider it as it was more inland than the bypass bridge. Looking at the attached sketch map, drawn by me, it is obvious that the preferred route should be via the Waverley Bridge.

The distance is about the same and walkers would not have to walk 500m along a busy bypass. In addition many on this walk would wish to stay overnight in Carlisle. It would be much easier for them to access the city centre for accommodation etc. by footpath through Bitts Park from the viaduct than from the bypass, returning the next day to continue their journey.

We are currently trying to ensure that city councillors are aware of this option and will advise Ramboll accordingly. Don’t let this opportunity be missed to get an inexpensive traffic free crossing of the river with the added benefits of links from Engine Lonning Nature Reserve to the other Nature Reserves north of the river, thus greatly improving our footpath network.

Stainton residents have consistently opposed re-opening of the viaduct. If it is not re-opened and the coastal path uses the bypass route they stand to get considerably more footfall through their village due to coastal path walkers and cyclists. In addition Carlisle tourism businesses will lose out.