Work has begun that could re-open a much-loved coastal walk that has been closed for more than 20 years.

Underbarn Walk is a picturesque path in Weymouth from Bincleaves Green to Castle Cove Beach.

It was closed by the local authority in 2001 due to safety concerns following landslips and has since fallen into a state of overgrowth and disrepair.

However the community never forgot its beloved path, and more than a decade later, the campaign to re-open the walk may finally have borne fruit.

Dorset Echo: Underbarn Walk is currently overgrownUnderbarn Walk is currently overgrown (Image: Clare Sutton)

Dorset Council has confirmed that it believes the path is now safe to re-open, and work is set to begin to clear it of vegetation, which may potentially re-open the walk.

Steve Elsworth, the Chair of Trustees for the Friends of Castle Cove Beach, has long anticipated the re-opening and believes it will prove popular.

He said: "I am very pleased about it. We organised to reflect the views of the community and it would be a very popular move to reopen it.

"It won't be reinstated to how it was before when it was tarmac, it will be a dirt track.

"I used to walk it in the 90s, it is the most beautiful walk in Weymouth. It means instant calm and relaxation to me."

Councillor Clare Sutton remembers walking the path as a child, and later scrambling along it with her kids.

In 2021 she secured Dorset Council’s commitment to re-instating the path, though progress stalled. 

She said: "Landowners were informed last month that work would recommence.

"I understand that the date was put back as a small number of landowners have sought clarification regarding certain details.

"Dorset Council’s - and previously Dorset County Council’s - coastal engineers have been monitoring this stretch since 2008. They have concluded that there’s been no significant movement in the last ten years and removing some further vegetation to reinstate the path will not have a detrimental effect on the coastal slope or increase the risk of landslips.

"I’m sorry this has been more complicated than we had envisaged. Huge thanks to Dorset Council’s Greenspace Team and the Trustees of Friends of Castle Cove for all their hard work on this, and to Underbarn Walk fans for your patience. Hopefully, we really are nearly there now."

It is understood that work had been set to start on Monday, February 5, but is now not expected to begin until later this week.

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: "The former Weymouth and Portland Borough Council originally closed the Underbarn footpath in 2001 due to safety concerns.

"Since then, many people have campaigned to get it reopened. Our recent risk assessments indicate that it is now safe to reopen the path; there’s been no sign of movement for more than a decade. As a result, we have begun the legal process to try and resurrect this popular route.

“We must follow due process to revoke the original closure order; the first step is to clear the scrub from the path so that statutory consultees can properly assess the path and provide accurate responses to a consultation. We have also been in contact with the owners of the land which the footpath passes through, to keep them informed.

"We intend to start scrub clearance in the coming weeks, local people will have a chance to provide comments through the consultation process.”