An ambitious campaign to re-open a footpath across an historic viaduct, that will link the Padiham Greenway with Hyndburn, is steaming ahead.
Campaigners, who want to reinstate the footpath from Read and Simonstone through to Great Harwood, linking three boroughs, have secured a £10,000 grant from the Tesco Bags for Help scheme which will be put towards opening up the old railway line from Simonstone Lane to Gooseleach Wood.
The group, Martholme Greenway, was launched last year to campaign for the extension that would breathe new life into a historic landmark in the area that would also create a safe circular walking and cycling route from Padiham to Great Harwood.
The Padiham Greenway links Burnley and Padiham in a picturesque path that is used regularly by walkers, cyclists and horse riders on a special bridlepath. And plans to extend it through Read and Simonstone into Hyndburn have been on the cards for a nunber of years.
The campaign is focusing on a public footpath that was in use until 2001 when it was closed due to the foot and mouth epidemic and never re-opened. The section they are concentrating on is owned by Railway Paths Ltd and managed by Sustrans. Other sections are privately owned and the landlords are opposed to the land being re-opened for a a variety of reasons.
Strength of feeling for the project was reflected in the huge turnout for an open access day which saw a train cross the viaduct for the first time in 51 years. The Vulcan Works miniature railway company ran the model train across the track and both children and adults enjoyed rides. And these photographs taken by Mark Cooper really show off the majesty of this stunning structure.
Dr John Barker, who is the chairman of Martholme Greenway, said: “The project has received a lot of support from many different areas of society and we are a group of people who would like to see this footpath put back into use, it would be a fantastic asset to the whole area.
“We have done a lot of work already, clearing away dead trees and weeds from the footpath and we have put a second bid in to the Tesco fund. All the money will go towards to the re-opening of the viaduct.”
The viaduct was also visited by Cosi Towneley who is the Burnley district access and bridleway officer of the British Horse Society along with other members, local cyclists and a disabled scooter user.
This historic structure was completed in 1877 to take the North East Lancashire loop line over the river Calder. The structure is built of sandstone and consists of 10 rounded arches, each of which is 40 feet (12m) wide. Built on a slight curve as the track bed turned between Great Harwood and Read it reaches a height of 65 feet above the river.
In 1984 the viaduct was designated as a grade II listed building by English Heritage and is reputed to be in much better condition, despite years without use, than the more famous Ribble Head Viaduct.
Video by Mark Cooper from OswaldtwistleFromAbove