A HISTORIC viaduct belonging to the East Lancashire Railway is set to be handed over so a modern-day cycling route through Rossendale can take shape.

Heritage railway bosses have owned Alderbottom Viaduct, near Stubbins, for a number of years, even though it does not form part of their main Rawtenstall to Bury route.


But it will form an integral part of a 12-kilometre stretch of ‘National Cycle Route 6’ in the Valley, which will not only run beside the rail line but the Irwell Sculpture Trail.

Councillors sitting on Rossendale Council’s executive board will be asked to rubber stamp the move on Wednesday, after being told it forms part of a wider £5.9million network of improvements in East Lancashire.

Adrian Smith, a principal planner for the authority, said that while the viaduct remained in ELR’s hands, it had no relevance to their day-to-day activities, but was transferred by the former British Railways Board, along with other sections of the main line.

He said: “The ELR have indicated that as part of the development of the cycleway they would wish to return the responsibility for the viaduct to the Council.

“ELR currently has the right not to allow public use of the viaduct and therefore could stop an integral part of the planned route being used.

“LCC (Lancashire County Council) officers have indicated that an alternative route for the cycleway cannot be accommodated without significant disruption to the eventual users.”

Cycling experts say that the route, which follows a path from Accrington through Haslingden to the county boundary at Stubbins, would have ‘great potential’ for commuter use, particularly those firms based around the A56.

The tourism benefits for the Rossendale valley, including the Irwell Sculpture Trail and the railway itself, should also not be under-estimated, councillors have heard.

Around £700,000 is set to be invested in cycling improvements in Rossendale through 2015-16, with the focus being on providing a base lining for the route and carrying out surveys for the trail.

Engineers have graded the Alderbottom Viaduct as being in a ‘fair’ condition, after conducting a survey in September, with no significant structural defects discovered.