Tuesday, December 01, 2020

light at the end of the tunnel

I will confess (and have done a couple of times before on this very blog) to a bit of a thing for disused railway lines, industrial archaeology and urban exploration. The way I rationalise the railway aspect of this to myself is that I have no interest in trains themselves and all the associated (as I sniffily deem it) geekery, but being impressed by the magnificence of a viaduct is no different from being awestruck by the magnificence of, say, St. Peter's Basilica, it's just a different sort of architecture. The further beauty of old railway architecture is that it can be combined with a rugged and windswept walk in the countryside (or, in certain circumstances, a nice bike ride), another thing that I am very keen on.

This extends to following a few enthusiasts on Twitter, which is how I caught sight of this tweet earlier today. 

This is the railway path between Keswick and Threlkeld in the Lake District which you might recall we walked along in 2008 but were then thwarted from walking along in a similar manner in 2018 by the damage inflicted by Storm Desmond in 2015, which had swept away a couple of old bridges. The picture below is from 2018; the one below it of me on one of the now collapsed bridges, probably irreparably weakening its superstructure with my colossal weight, is from 2008. 

I must say I expected that the rebuilding work would be massively protracted and would possibly never be completed, especially given the lack of progress that seemed to have been made in the couple of years between the damage occurring and our visit. However, things were evidently happening behind the scenes, and two completely new bridges have since been installed (and a third original bridge strengthened and repaired). Some details about the rebuilding project and some videos can be found here. More impressive in some ways than the bridge work was the re-opening of the buried tunnel under the A66 viaduct, whose bypassing by the old path necessitated a section of boardwalk which was a bit hilly and narrow, and therefore a bit awkward if you were either running or on a bike. 

[EDIT] Here's a photo I found from the 2008 collection which shows the eastern portal of the tunnel as it appeared at the time. You can just about see the curved brickwork of the very top of the tunnel opening above what was then ground level.

This video from the excellent people at Forgotten Relics gives a pretty good summary of the work that's been carried out. I'm looking forward to checking it all out on a future visit once, you know, all this (waves hands around vaguely) is out of the way. 

1 comment:

Emma said...

Would be interesting to see that. Don't think I knew there was a buried tunnel. Similarly surprised the work seems to have been completed so efficiently.