Belfast Telegraph

Waterfall Walk shut for five years ... and no sign it will be opened again

By Linda Stewart

It was once a stunning Victorian attraction that Victorian sightseers flocked to.

But the picturesque Waterfall Walk winding round the glen at Crawfordsburn Country Park has been closed to the public since 2010 - and looks likely to stay that way for some time.

North Down mayor Andrew Muir said the walk has been "abandoned" after Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said he cannot provide a timescale for repairing the landslide-damaged path.

Responding to an Assembly question by Alliance's Kieran McCarthy, Mr Durkan said a 60-metre stretch of pathway leading to the waterfall has been closed to ensure public safety since November 12, 2010.

"A timescale for completion of repair works cannot be provided at this time," he said.

"Civil engineers were unable to assure NIEA that the path could be made safe for public use by a short term fix. A long-term solution to address the slope stability issues is required.

"Options for this are under consideration. However, they are limited because a section of the unstable slope is not owned by my department and any such works are likely to be costly and will be dependent on budget availability."

Mr Durkan said visitors can still reach the waterfall via the path on the opposite bank.

But local historian Robin Masefield said: "The waterfall is certainly the most attractive feature of the park and the ability to walk a loop round the Glen adds to the attractiveness of this.

"It's clearly right that the department would take time to investigate and get a full understanding of what remedial works need to be done. But it's disappointing that it has yet to be acted upon."

An NIEA spokesman said possible solutions include installation of a new catch net as a short term option, engineering to address the longer term slope stability issues and creation of a new bypass pathway.

Mr Muir said: "I noticed problems with the route after the bad winter in 2010 and assumed NIEA would have taken necessary action to re-establish full access, but instead of taking action the walk has clearly been abandoned, allowed to wash away into the river after further landslides and no real attempts made to repair."

Factfile

William Sharman Crawford, a radical politician and High Sheriff of Down, opened the grounds to the public in 1850. He built a Gothic bridge from the gardens to the Glen, which was lit by lamps powered by the burn.

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