A YOUTH who walked along the top of viaduct railings hundreds of feet above a gorge and then posted a film of the escapade on internet video website YouTube has been condemned.

In the video, the youth can be seen balancing on top of the chest-high railings, egged on by his friend, who is filming him.

The incident was recorded on the 170ft high Hownsgill Viaduct, near Consett, County Durham.

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The youth takes more than four minutes to complete the crossing - on several occasions appearing to lose his balance before correcting himself.

The viaduct - known locally as Gill Bridge - has been the scene of many suicides.

The latest incident has prompted calls for a safety barrier to be erected to prevent a repeat of what is considered a "dare" by local youths.

Derwentside District Council leader Councillor Alex Watson said: "It is a foolish thing to do. It has happened before. I witnessed a youngster doing it many years ago. The youths do it as a dare. It is a terrifying thing to see. Once they fall from that viaduct they are dead. Nobody has every survived that drop.

"There should be some kind of barrier there. Sooner or later, there is going to be a serious accident - or another assumed suicide."

Commenting on the video, a police spokesman said: "It is foolish in the extreme. It does not need further explanation. The danger is obvious."

A spokesman for Durham County Council said: "The Hounsgill Viaduct is extremely high and if anyone was to fall from it the consequences would without a doubt be fatal.

"Walking along the safety railing is clearly foolish and reckless and we would strongly urge people not to behave in such a manner. We would also express concern than publicising this kind of behaviour on the internet like this could possibly be seen as encouraging others to behave in this way, which is something we simply cannot condone."

The viaduct, which has stood for more than 130 years, is held up as an example of Victorian railway engineering, on the course of the old Stanhope and Tyne Railway.