RIDERS and ramblers are risking serious injury by using a flood-damaged but popular path, a councillor has claimed.

Large chunks of the Lonen, which runs from the centre of St John’s Chapel up into the countryside, were washed away by flash floods in April last year.

The public byway has traditionally been used by horse riders and walkers as an alternative to walking along the busy A689.

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But its current condition is making it a challenge for hikers and an impossibility for cyclists and riders.

Livery yard owner Kate Cassidy said the path is a vital link between St John’s Chapel and her business in Daddry Shield.

She said: “Particularly in the summer when the main road becomes like a racetrack for motorbikes, we need to use that byway.

“I am an experienced rider and yet getting up that path in the condition it is in is impossible.

“I and a colleague have tried and we have both come off our horses in nasty falls

“At the end of the day it is a public byway in an area trying to make money through tourism, it needs to be accessible.

“This does not give a good impression of the dale.”

Weardale county councillor John Shuttleworth said he has been trying for a while to have the path, which starts behind the Golden Lion Pub just of St John’s Chapel marketplace, fixed.

He said: “Some drainage work was done to it a while ago but then the flood came and washed a lot of it away.

“You can see the new pipe that was laid now, it is all exposed.

“This is an important byway for both residents and visitors to the dale, it needs to be repaired.

“There have already been several close calls with people and animals slipping, it is an accident waiting to happen.”

Adrian White, head of transport and contract services at Durham County Council said repairs are being considered.

Mr White said: “The bridleway is prone to damage as a result of heavy rain as it’s on a steep slope which acts as a drainage channel for a large area of hillside.

“Major repair works were carried out in 2010 but unfortunately exceptionally heavy rainfall in 2013 caused further significant damage, as it did on a number of paths in the county.

“We are working with the local community to arrange further repairs.”