£300k challenge as fundraisers bid to reopen railway path

By Geoff Courtney

CAMPAIGNERS who are central to the bid to have part of the former Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway reopened to walkers after it was ravaged by floods more than two years ago, have until the end of June to raise £300,000 in order to unlock significant additional funding that could see their hopes come to fruition.

The trackbed between Keswick and Threlkeld in Cumbria, now a trail popular with walkers, tourists and cyclists, was closed after Storm Desmond struck with devastating effect in December 2015.

Opening time: An LNWR Class 2F ‘Cauliflower’ 0-6-0 heads an Up cattle train on the Keswick-Threlkeld section of the Cockermouth Keswick & Penrith Railway in about 1935. This stretch is now a popular railway path that was closed in 2015 after being devastated by Storm Desmond and is set to reopen if sufficient funds are raised for repairs that will include the replacement of two original bridges that were washed away by flood water. The Up distant signal on the right was presumably located so far from the railway due to sighting problems from the line itself. CUMBRIAN RAILWAYS ASSOCIATION/PATTINSON COLLECTION

Two original railway bridges crossing the River Greta were washed away, as was 220 yards of embankment, a third bridge was damaged, and a section of raised boardwalk destabilised.

Raise the shortfall

The damage caused was estimated at £5.4 million, and last December Highways England started the financial ball rolling with a grant of £2½ million, while the Lake District National Park Authority announced a fundraising partnership with the Lake District Foundation to raise the shortfall of nearly £3 million.

Bridge of sighs: LMS designed/BR-built 2-6-0 No. 46491 is depicted crossing the River Greta at the foot of of Blencathra as it approaches Threlkeld station with a train from Keswick in the early 1960s. The painting, by Malcolm Root, shows the 2MT, a long-time Workington-based engine, on Rowsome Bridge, an inverted bowstring bridge that was strengthened in 1925 due to the increasingly heavy locomotives used by the NER on the line. The Keswick-Threlkeld section, part of the railway from Cockermouth to Penrith, was converted into a railway path after its closure in 1972 and is currently closed following extensive damage caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015.

The foundation funds conservation, environmental and cultural heritage projects, and its fundraiser Heather Askew said the organisation was looking to raise at least £300,000 towards the shortfall by the end of June, which if achieved would release other funding.

She said the LDNPA expected phase one of the path reinstatement regarding design, environmental and planning consents to be completed by July, with phase two, the reconstruction, starting in the summer subject to the required funds being raised.

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