AN ICONIC Cumbrian landmark has reopened to walkers after work to upgrade its handrails.

The Permissive path on Smardale Gill Viaduct, just south of Kirkby Stephen, has been closed for more than a year because of work to remedy defects identified in a 2019 inspection.

A ceremony to officially reopen it will take place on December 11.

MP Dr Neil Hudson will do the honours and unveil a new interpretation panel that will explain its history.

The inspection also identified the need for further repair work to the surface deck of the viaduct and its stonework.

Additionally the trust has commissioned a further survey that will take place in the coming months to establish the exact nature and cost of the works necessary to conserve the Victorian monument.

The restoration work is likely to be substantial and costly so the Northern Viaduct Trust will be launching fund-raising campaign in the New Year.

Neil Cleeveley, chairman of Northern Viaduct Trust said: "It has been a hard year for everyone due to the pandemic. Nature, fresh air and the beauty of our surroundings is of proven benefit for everyone struggling through these hard times - that’s why we’re so pleased it's open again.

"We would like to thank our funders, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund, Westmorland Dales, Love Your Landscape Fund, the Hadfield Trust, HF Holidays, and Railway Ramblers for their kind donations to the restoration."

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