THE future of a popular Radnorshire walking route will be discussed at a public meeting next week.

The Devil’s Gulch, located on the Elan Valley trail near Rhayader, has been impassable for almost four years following a rockfall.

Welsh Water, owners of the Elan Valley estate, have been lobbied constantly since the incident occurred in November 2018 – with the fact access to the site remains closed causing a huge rift among locals, as the Devil’s Gulch is a popular walking route.

A community drop-in day is being held by Welsh Water on Saturday, June 11, where the public can ask any questions and find out information about the solution proposed to the rockfall in Devil’s Gulch and the works schedule being put in place to reopen the popular bridleway and National Cycle Network route.

The drop-in day will be held at the Elan Valley Visitor Centre on June 11 from 10am until 4pm.

“We will be joined by the Welsh Water capital alliance team and specialist advisors who will be undertaking the works, to share our proposed engineering plans and timescales,” said the Elan Valley on its Facebook page.

“There is no need to book or send a confirmation email, just turn up on the day between 10am and 4pm.”

Alternatively, if you are unable to make this date but still have some questions, email your query to the Elan Rangers on elanrangers@dwrcymru.com.

Walkers, cyclists and other users of the Elan Valley have been left in limbo since the November 2018 incident – with fears that repair costs could escalate to as much as £1 million.

Long-term solutions proposed for the Gulch include: pin and net the rock faces on either side of the Gulch; construct a tunnel through the Gulch using steel and concrete beams; cut back the rock face beyond its current position; create a diversion route avoiding the Gulch through the Rhos yr Hafod and Allt Goch side; or create a diversion route around the nearby Pen y Garreg reservoir.

In March last year, proposals to temporarily use a county road as a diversion route around it were described as “preposterous and dangerous”.

The “extremely unstable” condition of the rock face led to the Welsh Government extending the path’s closure multiple times, while the water firm held two information and engagement sessions via Zoom in early 2021.

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Welsh Water and Powys County Council had liaised over temporary diversion routes within the estate, including using the main road, which locals deemed too dangerous.

Walking group, Powys Ramblers, came up with their own unique solution to the problem – by creating a totally new walking route.

The new route proposed by the ramblers is around 2.3 miles long and involves about 1,000ft of climbing. The diversion via the road is around three miles and flatter.

“Powys Ramblers have been pushing the council and Welsh Water to find a solution to this issue for the last couple of years but without success,” said Powys Ramblers’ footpath secretary Graham Taylor.

“Rhayader Town Council have also been expressing their concern about the time taken to resolve this issue. We too are concerned about the diversion which takes people along the road which is narrow and windy and, in non-Covid times, used by visitors not used to the many twists and turns and who have been known to be rather heavy footed with the accelerator foot.

“In frustration about the lack of progress we came up with another diversion which avoids the road completely using, in the main, public footpaths and common land.

“It is fine for walkers and affords wonderful views of the valley. The only downside of our diversion is that it involves a few climbs.”

In response, Welsh Water voiced fears the alternate route would only be suitable for experienced walkers.

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