Half of river bridge still without public right of way

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image copyrightWye Valley AONB
image captionThe bridge, also known as Stowfield Viaduct or the Black Bridge, connects Lower Lydbrook with Welsh Bicknor

A bridge which links two counties still does not have a public right of way on the Gloucestershire side, three years after the error was discovered.

Lydbrook Bridge, between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, is a vital part of the 136-mile Wye Valley Walk.

But the Gloucestershire half of the bridge has not been registered as a public right of way by the council.

A council spokesperson said it "remains committed to recording the route" but progress has been marred by delays.

The Wye Valley Walk is used by more than 20,000 walkers every year, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

But in 1981, when the footpath was established, Gloucestershire County Council failed to register its half of Lydbrook Bridge as a public right of way unlike Herefordshire Council.

The oversight only came to light when Gloucestershire County Council agreed to temporary repairs to reopen the bridge after a lottery grant bid for more permanent repairs was rejected in 2018.

Sid Phelps, from the Forest of Dean District Council, said he had been "patient" but it had been years.

"If we've got a public right of way across the bridge it's going to be much more difficult to let the bridge go into disrepair," he said.

'Get it sorted'

Graham Morgan, from Gloucestershire County Council, said the process needed to be "speeded up".

"It's a very important link for walkers so they really should make a concerted effort to get it sorted," he said.

A spokesperson for the county council said it was "working behind the scenes towards that aim".

"The legal process for officially recording the public footpath rights has been delayed by a nearby public footpath diversion and then by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The county council remains committed to recording the route."

Known locally as Stowfield Viaduct, or the Black Bridge, it was used by locomotives until the early 1960s.

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