KEEN walkers have been warned of the potential prolonged closure of a popular woodland and riverbank footpath, from next week.

Reinforcement work starts on dislodged banks of a stretch of the River Wear near Durham, on Monday.

Durham County Council engineers estimate the necessary repairs on a 40-metre section of damaged bankside could result in the closure of the riverside footpath through Maiden Castle Wood for up to 12 weeks.

The affected path leads from the end of Green Lane, between Durham City Rugby Club’s Hollow Drift ground and Durham Amateur Rowing Club’s boathouse, passing through the wood, emerging at the university sports ground, at nearby Maiden Castle.

It is a popular walkway, used by ramblers on several identified footpath routes, leading to Houghall College, Shincliffe and further afield.

Reinstatement work has been put on hold awaiting the completion of similar long-term repairs to the opposite side of the river, through Pelaw Wood, following a landslide which brought about its closure, in extreme wet weather, in 2013.

The revamped riverside path through Pelaw Wood, leading to Maiden Castle Bridge, reopened in time for the Music in the Gardens event, at Old Durham Gardens, in early July.

Walkers are advised to use that side of the river to reach Maiden Castle from the city during the period of work on the Maiden Castle Wood path.

Adrian White, the county council’s head of transport and contract services, said: “Our engineers have identified a 40-metre stretch of the riverbank, between Maiden Castle and the rugby club, as a priority for flood prevention work, and, as a result, work will begin next week on a scheme to rebuild this section.

“We have been waiting until the improvements to the Pelaw Wood side of the river were complete before we began the work, as we didn’t want to close both sides at the same time.

“The forthcoming scheme is a smaller and simpler project than the Pelaw Woods work and we expect it to take between eight and 12 weeks.

“However, we will still need to close the footpath and other routes feeding into the site.

“We appreciate this may cause some inconvenience, but this should be outweighed by an improved footpath and better flood defences on this important link between the city and Maiden Castle, Shincliffe and beyond.”

Signs warning pedestrians of the closure have appeared on the approach routes on The Racecourse and Green Lane.