SPECIALISTS restoring Ribblehead Viaduct have found it needs some extra care to secure its future for passengers and tourists.

Network Rail is currently carrying out the upgrading of stone blockwork and drainage as part of a £2.1m investment into the historic structure which carries the picturesque Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble Valley and close to Whernside.

Detailed laser and drone surveys have mapped every inch of the Grade Two star listed viaduct for the first time, and huge scaffolding towers have been built for the repairs to take place.

And this has given rare access for a much closer inspection of the 144-year-old railway link’s condition and its 24 arches.

Network Rail says while the expected repairs have been progressing well, further minor faults in the masonry have been found which need fixing.

Some of the blockwork on the viaduct’s supports is cracked, so when water gets inside and freezes in cold weather it turns to ice and expands, making the damage worse.

Plans have now been submitted to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to carry out the extra repairs to the newly found cracks as soon as possible as part of the same project.

Marc Vipham, route asset manager for structures at Network Rail, said: “Being up close restoring Ribblehead viaduct for several months now, we have found deeper issues that need attention to protect this amazing feat of Victorian engineering for the future.

“As with any heritage project of this kind, when plans need to change it is standard procedure to submit further planning applications to adapt our work. Carrying out these extra repairs now, when the experts are in place and the scaffolding is already up, will save a huge amount of taxpayers’ money and stop us needing to come back all over again.

He added: “We’re continuing to work closely with heritage experts and conservationists at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority so we’re all on the same page as to how we can best restore this much-loved structure for generations to come.”

Ribblehead Viaduct opened in 1876 bridging the gap between Ribblehead and Dent on the exposed and windy Batty Moss.

The work also includes the removal of vegetation and the repairing of damage caused by plants and weeds, and the repainting of metal and pipework in one universal colour.

Network Rail says it is working closely with Historic England and the national park to ensure the work is sympathetically carried out in line with guidance for historical structures.