The beautiful walk at Runkerry beach.
Almost two years after a bridge was removed from a popular coastal walking route by Causeway Coast and Glens Council, the well-trodden trek on the North Antrim coast is requiring much-needed attention.
The loop linking from Portballintrae, along by Runkerry beach, to the Giant's Causeway, is used by many from both near and far every year, however despite its popularity you could be forgiven for thinking that it has been forsaken by the local authority.
One visitor to the area on Sunday could not believe that the bridge, removed by Council in 2021 following a winter storm, still has not been replaced, and a set of steps have given way to the coastal elements and are no longer safely useable.
Speaking to Love Ballymena, the visitor said:
"The was the first time we have been this year, but it used to be a regular walk for us. The lack of upkeep of the steps, and the removal of the bridge that has not been replaced, at the top of Runkerry beach, are health and safety issues.
"This path has been enjoyed by all ages and abilities for many years and it is so very sad to see that it is not being properly maintained."
The stepping stone crossing walkers have been using since the bridge was removed, and steps in need of repair.
The woman added:
"We seen older people trying to cross the stepping stones were the bridge used to be and they were scrambling to get up the other side.
"It is a really poor show from Council, that this walk, part of the Causeway Walk that we are so proud of, has fallen into such disrepair."
In response, a spokesperson for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council confirmed that the authority is aware of the issues but are still in discussions with the private land owner.
The Council spokesperson said:
"Council removed the Ardihannon bridge on 13 December 2021, as the structure was in an unsafe condition following storms. This was done following discussions with the private landowner.
"Council then sought approval to design, finance and procure a replacement bridge in February 2022, with full approvals to appoint a contractor being provided at the full Council meeting in May 2022.
"A condition of the replacement bridge was that, prior to installation, Council would be required to formalise arrangements with the private landowner by way of a licence agreement to locate a new footbridge on their property. In addition to this, a Permissive Path Agreement would also be prepared to formalise access arrangements for the public on this part of the coastal path.
"The relevant documentation has been shared with the landowner and discussions have been taking place between the landowner and Council, with a view to the necessary documentation being agreed and formalised prior to the installation of a replacement bridge."
The Council spokesperson added:
"Subject to the above being in place, the bridge will be completed and installed at a date to be confirmed.
"With regard to the steps, Council has attempted on several occasions to engage with the landowner and assist with a management process to allow an appropriate repair of this infrastructure."