A SECTION of the Pennine Way near Gargrave remains closed more than a year after a canal bridge was badly damaged after it was hit by a vehicle.

The Changeline bridge at Bank Newton, off the narrow Gargrave to Little Stainton road, is used by walkers and horseriders and also by a dairy farmer, residents and visitors to Newton Grange holiday cottages. The bridge, which is owned by the Canal and River Trust, and is on a tight bend, was hit in around March last year, resulting in stone falling onto the towpath below.

The towpath, part of the Pennine Way, was closed, due to fears of falling masonry, with walkers diverted onto the Little Stainton Road, and back onto the towpath further along the road to Gargrave at Carpenters Lock.

At the time, the Canal and River Trust, and North Yorkshire Council, said they were working on a joint project which would see the bridge strengthened and it was hoped that the work would take place before April, 2024.

But a year on, and the two organisations are still working on a scheme.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised with the canal trust and the council by Bank Newton Parish Meeting which in addition to calling for repairs to be carried out as soon as possible, says a passing place is needed on the single track road to the bridge to keep 'all users safe, particularly pedestrians'.

A spokesperson for the parish meeting said: "A passing place on the lane would allow vehicles to pass each other before trying to pass at the turn onto the bridge. Everyone wants to have the towpath open again so we don't have to walk or cycle on the dangerous lane. Many people want to go the whole length of the canal. Everyone wants to keep this beautiful bridge, grade two listed, with added group value, saved for the future."

North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of environment, Karl Battersby, said: “We continue to work with the Canal and River Trust, the owners of the bridge, on a scheme to strengthen the bridge and improve the road alignment on the approaches. It will also include repairs to the parapets which have been damaged.

“Whilst we don’t have a date confirmed for the works, we expect it to be within the next financial year.”

The Canal and River Trust has been asked for a comment.