Smardale Gill Viaduct maintenance

Programme of Maintenance checks and repairs

Commences now (August 2019) until further notice

The permissive footpath on Smardale Gill Viaduct is closed until further notice due to an on-going programme of maintenance including updating the railings.

The iconic grade II listed Smardale Gill Viaduct is undergoing its regular programme of maintenance checks and repairs.  The programme will start with the updating of the railings on the top of the viaduct and will include repairs and renewal to the viaduct footpath surface and repairs to the stonework.  The permissive footpath across the top of the viaduct will be closed until further notice.  Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve will remain open with an option to bypass the viaduct so that walkers can still enjoy the views of the magnificent Victorian viaduct from the ground. Other walks in the area remain unaffected.

Smardale Gill Viaduct curves its way across the narrow valley of Scandal Beck about three miles west of Kirkby Stephen. Constructed of locally quarried limestone the viaduct has 14 arches of 30 feet span, and a total length of 553 feet. It carried the railway 90 feet over the beck below. The deteriorating state of this viaduct in the 1980s, some 20 years after final closure of the railway, was the impetus to the formation of the Northern Viaduct Trust in 1989. Smardale Gill Viaduct was acquired from the British Railways Board and its restoration completed in 1992.

The viaduct is now surrounded by a nature reserve much favoured by walkers and those who love railway history.  Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Reserve at Smardale, in which the viaduct is situated, was recently named the best nature reserve in Cumbria with around 400 species of plants.

The viaduct has under-gone regular maintenance over the years but is now in need of a more extensive programme of maintenance and repair in order to ensure that Smardale Gill Viaduct is preserved for future generations as an important part of Cumbria’s industrial history and the UK’s railway heritage.

A donations site has been established in order to raise funds for these upgrades and repairs.  All donations are extremely welcome . Neil Cleeveley (Chair of NVT) said:  “The closure is not something we have done lightly. But a recent inspection by structural engineers recommended that we urgently upgrade the railings to current safety standards. Given the potential risk to public safety, we felt we had to act quickly. I hope the viaduct will not be closed for long, but we need to scope the necessary works, and raise the funds to pay for them before we can re-open it. The report also identified a number of less urgent issues that require closer examination which we will commission in the near future. I hope people will bear with us while we carry out this urgent work and, if possible, make a donation to help with this and the further work on this iconic part of the local landscape.”