Route likely shut for weeks

Cracked road on the B6344 towards Rothbury that remains closed after a landslide
Cracked road on the B6344 towards Rothbury that remains closed after a landslide

A landslide which occurred on Boxing Day has caused major damage to a road which links the village of Rothbury to the A697.

Police were called to the stretch of the B6344, between the village and Weldon Bridge, after deep cracks appeared in the road on December 26.

They were caused by a landslide below the level of the road, in four separate sections within a 300-metre stretch at Cragend.

The slippage continued in the following days, and parts of the road collapsed completely. The B6344 is likely to remain closed to traffic for a number of weeks.

Highways teams have introduced permanent barriers to ensure that drivers do not use the road between Pauperhaugh and Rothbury, and installed diversion signs. A diversion is in place via the B6341 and includes illuminated message signs on the A697 to give advance warning.

Highways engineers are carrying out regular inspections of the stretch of the road but until the land stops moving it is not possible to assess the full extent of the damage.

Staff will continue to monitor the situation and a full appraisal of what work is required will be carried out as soon as possible.

Coun Alan Thompson, executive member responsible for highways at Northumberland County Council, said: “This issue was brought to our attention on Boxing Day when a member of the public reported mud on the road into Rothbury. Our engineers went out to investigate, realised the potential danger and closed the road immediately.

“This speedy action ensured that members of the public are protected from what has become a very serious landslip which has since seen sections of the road slide towards the river.

“The problem will require a significant engineering solution after an investigation into the stability of the road and the adjacent embankments.

“We have seen exceptional rainfall during 2012 and unfortunately this landslip is one of the more serious implications.

“I would like to thank our staff for their prompt action in ensuring public safety.”