Jan 2022 – Smardale Gill Viaduct, Cumbria.

The ‘Cinderella’ of the three structures owned by the Northern Viaducts Trust (NVT), Smardale Gill Viaduct, on the ex-NER Barnard Castle & South Durham line between Tebay and Kirkby Stephen, is the intended recipient of funds raised by the 14 Peaks for 14 Arches Challenge. This is asking people to walk 90 miles in 14 phases, a challenge backed by renowned mountaineer, Alan Hinkes OBE, who was the first Briton to reach the summits of the 14 mountains in the world over 8,000 metres. The headline way of covering 90 miles includes climbing such local hills as Wild Boar Fell, Smardale Fell, Crosby Garrett Fell, Murton Pike and High Seat on Mallerstang, yet people are welcome to do it any way they feel able (such as up and down Kirkby Stephen High Street – which is quite long, by the way). Engineers have advised that Smardale Gill needs new drainage facilities installed and the deck waterproofed, and the challenge aims to raise £90,000 towards this. Neil Cleeveley, Chairman of NVT, says ‘Everyone taking part in the 14 Peaks for 14 Arches Challenge will receive a special T-shirt bearing an image of the Viaduct and Challenge logo’. Planning permission for deck resurfacing and waterproofing has been granted and the cost of the work is estimated at £230,000, of which a commitment of £100,000 has been made by the Railway Heritage Trust. Once this work is completed, fundraising efforts will turn to the necessary repairs to the stonework. (NVT; Richard Bain; News & Star, with The Cumberland News)