AN inspector calls in Richmond today - and his decision could seal the fate of the fight to save a popular riverside walk.

The Swale has already undercut its north bank along a stretch of the Drummer Boy Walk, close to Easby Abbey, with sections falling into the water to be washed away by floods.

Trustees for landowner, Lady Serena James, and North Yorkshire County Council have ruled the risk of further collapses make the footpath unsafe, but local walkers formed the Easby Riverside Restoration Project in February.

As well as challenging the closure notice, they have formed a charity, which is raising money to cover the costs of a restoration project.

It is hoped that most of the group's supporters will be at Richmond Town Hall, at 10am, this morning, to reflect the strength of public feeling on the issue.

A Government planning inspector will arrive there for a hearing, which will decide if the closure notice should stand.

A town hall meeting was held on Monday last week to brief campaigners on the inquiry procedure, but only 20 people turned up.

Group leaders have been contacting fellow supporters to emphasise the importance of a better attendance today.

The inquiry was scheduled to last for four days. However, it is now thought most of the evidence can be dealt with speedily, which could reduce the hearing to less than two days.