A popular path dubbed the ‘world’s most beautiful view’ could be lost forever if money can’t be raised to fund the repairs.
Deep cracks have appeared in an area of Kirkby Lonsdale known as Ruskin’s View. The depth of said cracks, thought to be a result of decades of storms and bad weather, are now causing severe safety concerns.
A survey was recently carried out which indicated that the slope and the path had become unstable and the path was closed to the public for fear it could collapse at any time. Ruskin’s View is accessed from the corner of St Mary’s churchyard in Kirkby Lonsdale. You can follow it easily along Church Brow, above the River Lune.
It is at this point that you should be able to feast your eyes on a breathtaking view of the Lune Valley and Underley Hall. This scene was painted by the artist JMW Turner in 1822 and the picture so impressed the 19th century art critic and poet John Ruskin, that he wrote: ‘I do not know in all my country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine.’
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In 1875, Ruskin described the panorama as ‘one of the loveliest views in England, therefore in the world’. And so it became known as Ruskin’s View.
But now there are fears this tourist attraction could be closed off forever, or even destroyed completely if the slope collapses. It has prompted the community and town council to rally together in a bid to help preserve the route.
The area known as Church Brow is owned by Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council and includes the embankment between the Brow footpath and the River Lune, together with the footpath itself. This area has suffered from severe erosion and has become unstable. The town council is now exploring ways in which the erosion can be halted and is setting up an appeal to secure funding to carry out the necessary works.
Cumbria County Council is responsible for the footpath and has put in place statutory notices closing the footpath to public access. The closure is likely to be in place for at least a year and extends from just beyond the Radical Steps to a point beyond the gates to the new graveyard.
It is estimated that the costs to make it safe are going to be more than a £1 million and to help raise these funds residents have had their ‘rates’ doubled so contributions can be added to the fund in the next two years.
Allan Muirhead town councillor said: “It’s really important to get these repairs completed. when the survey was carried out it was said it could collapse tomorrow, next year or in the next decade. The view is really popular and it brings a lot of people into the town.
“People come from all over the world to see Ruskin’s View and if we can’t get this resolved it could be a disaster. As a town council, we’re doing all we can to raise funds and in the coming months we will be starting a campaign to get support and apply for grants and money from other places.”
Historically, The Brow has always had issues. In the eighties, the council completed improvements which helped stabilise The Brow. But, when Storm Desmond (December 2015) and more recent storms hit, they have seriously eroded The Brow at river level. Drainage runoff has also affected the stability of the slope.
Site investigations have shown the instability of the slope and the fragility of the footpath, together with St Mary’s Church land. work on the path is not expected to start until June 2023 at the earliest.