YORKSHIRE Water has temporarily closed a popular path at its Thruscross reservoir at Blubberhouses after hundreds of trees were damaged during Storm Arwen, posing a 'significant risk' to walkers.

The water company says it has been forced to stop people using the around five mile circular route because of the number of trees left in a perilous state following the devastating storm at the end of November.

It has also permanently diverted a route through a densely wooded area at the reservoir site, off the A59 between Skipton and Harrogate, because of the 'instability of trees'.

But, even though it put up notices, followed by padlocking gates and nailing boards across entrances, it says people are still ignoring the warnings and are continuing to use the paths.

Alastair Harvey, lead countryside and woodland advisor at Yorkshire Water, said it was important that people took notice of the closures. Contractors were working to clear the routes as soon as possible, he added.

“Storm Arwen caused significant damage at Thruscross reservoir and some of our other sites in the area," he said.

"Fallen trees are hanging over the paths and blocking them completely in certain sections, posing a significant risk to visitors. As a result we have closed the circular route around the reservoir and permanently diverted a section of path away from a wooded area due to the instability of trees.

"This area is extremely difficult to access, making works to make it safe and remove the trees difficult."

He added:“The instability of the fallen trees pose a significant risk to visitors and we would urge those coming to the site not to ignore the signs and diversions in place as the routes are inaccessible at the moment.

"Our contractors are working to clear damage caused by Storm Arwen at a number of our sites and we are doing everything we can to ensure we can reopen the routes around Thruscross.”

One regular walker, who asked not to be named, said: "I've been coming here for a long time and its awful to see so many trees blown down. I completely understand why Yorkshire Water has closed some of the paths, the trees do look very unstable in places.

"It's such a shame; some of the trees must have been hundreds of years old; its going to be a long time before the paths in some places are going to be anything like they were before the storm."