AN INVESTIGATION has been ordered into why Durham is suffering repeated landslips along the banks of the River Wear.

Access to a riverside pathway through picturesque Pelaw Woods has been restricted over recent months, following a series of landslips and fallen trees.

Durham County Council has been trying to reopen the path, but officials now say an investigation must be carried out and, as a result, a stretch between Baths Bridge and Old Durham will be closed.

Experts will conduct monitoring and a full geotechnical assessment, to discover why the hillside is continuing to move and what long-term solutions are possible.

Work will begin within days and is expected to last several months.

A second footpath, which runs parallel, has also been affected and will also be closed.

A path on the opposite riverbank at Maiden Castle, which has suffered damage and collapse in recent years, will also be secured.

Adrian White, the council’s head of transport and contract services, said: “We have been working to keep these paths open in the face of some challenging conditions.

“However, we have now reached the stage where it has become necessary to close the paths for safety reasons.

“We appreciate the public’s understanding so far and would like to stress that the closures are being introduced in order to ensure the long-term future of the paths.”

Meanwhile, Environment Agency (EA) staff have been giving the Wear a spring clean today (Wednesday, May 1).

EA workers cleared the river of rubbish and debris, while council workers tidied the riverbanks.

The drive is part of this year’s Litter Free Durham Big Spring Clean campaign. Next week (Friday, May 10), the focus will shift to the River Skerne, in Darlington.

Andrew Foster, from the EA, said: “The EA normally only removes debris that could cause an obstruction and a flood risk.

“So this is another great opportunity to pool resources with the councils to clear all litter and debris we find in the rivers and have a thorough spring clean.”

Last year, workers pulled an old dentist’s chair out of the Wear and 30 tyres from the Skerne.

On Christmas Eve, a landslip occurred on the Wear’s riverbanks behind Church Street, swallowing up part of the garden of Reverend Peter Kashouris, Priest In Charge at St Oswald’s Church.