A RENOWNED mountaineer has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save a 150-year-old viaduct from ruin.

Alan Hinkes OBE is set to take on a new mission in aid of Eden Viaduct’s Save Smardale Gill Viaduct campaign and is encouraging others to get involved to save the Kirkby Stephen based structure.

Mr Hinkes is the first Briton to climb all 14 of the World’s highest 8000m mountains-located in the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges of Nepal, Tibet and Pakistan.

His latest challenge will be the charity’s 14 Peaks for 14 Arches Challenge which will see participants scale a number of surrounding peaks including Wild Boar Fell, Smardale Fell, Crosby Garrett Fell, Blease Fell, Murton Pike, High Seat on Mallerstang, Dufton Pike, Cross Fell and Little Fell.

People taking part have been asked to get themselves sponsored through Eden Viaducts’ Just Giving platform by accepting the challenge, covering 90 miles (for 90 feet) in 14 phases.

Eden Viaducts is trying to raise £100,000 for the first phase of repairs to make the viaduct watertight and repair its surface.

Engineers have advised The Northern Viaduct Trust that work must be carried out in the next 12 months to waterproof the deck and install new drainage to prevent further deterioration.

Major work will then need to be carried out to repair several of the stone piers.

The estimated total cost of the vital work to preserve the bridge is £1million.

“The Viaduct is a jewel in our Victorian heritage and an important monument in the most beautiful setting accessible to all,” said Mr Hinkes.

“It would be a tragedy if the viaduct fell into disrepair and the walk across the viaduct had to be closed.

“I have joined the challenge and will be walking all the peaks of the Challenge. I am hoping that people will join me in the challenge and in my walks.”

Neil Cleeveley, chair of Northern Viaduct Trust said: “People who, for whatever reason, cannot scale the 14 fells can still join in by covering 90 miles in 14 stages in their garden or high street, on an exercise bike or however they choose.

“Everyone taking part in the 14 Peaks for 14 Arches Challenge will receive a special T-shirt bearing an image of the Viaduct and Challenge logo.”