WALKERS in Dawlish are up in arms as part of the sea wall is closed at the same time as an adjacent footpath. 

Network Rail has revealed that a section of the sea wall, damaged by storms several months ago, will not reopen until June while repair work is carried out. 

But at the same time, a footpath along Lady’s Mile, which could be used as an alternative route to the sea wall, is also being closed by Devon County Council. 

Network Rail says the damage to the sections of the sea wall affected was compounded by two more recent storms. 

But they hope work on the footpath should only take about four weeks and it will be open as soon as possible. 

A spokesman for Network Rail said: ‘Owing to damage caused to the old sea wall by Storm Ciaran in November the sections of footpath on the wall between Coastguard’s breakwater and Red Rock, Langstone, at Dawlish , and Smugglers Cove at Holcombe, and Sprey Point towards Teignmouth, were immediately closed for repairs.

‘The repair work on the Teignmouth side was completed in December, with the walkway reopening just before Christmas.

‘However, the Dawlish section remains closed as the site poses more of challenge. 

‘Work has been delayed by further bad weather including Storm Gerrit and last week’s Storm Henk, which has caused further damage to the wall. 

‘In addition, materials can only be brought to site by track, using specialist vehicles, while trains aren’t running on Saturday nights.

‘We are working to get the footpath open as soon as possible and have approximately four weeks of work to carry out however, progress will depend on the weather and tides.

‘We’d like to remind the community that the footpath remains closed for everyone’s safety until the repairs are complete.’

The closure notice in place on the footpath states six months due to the public rights of way closures being granted for either three weeks or six months. 

But it is understood the work is not expected to take six months but it may take slightly longer than four weeks as work will be carried out around the weather and the tides.

Path users have complained that the footpath should only be closed when the repairs take place.

The section of footpath affected is popular for dog walkers, joggers, swimmers and tourists heading between Dawlish and the Warren.

Storm damage to the sea wall has affected the edging stones which were dislodged and others removed and part of the walkway surface has also been damaged.

Meanwhile, engineers were working over the festive period to continue the latest phase of the resilience project along the railway line between Dawlish and Holcombe. 

The team worked around the clock over Christmas to drill soil nails in the cliffs to reduce the risk of material falling onto the track.

The work is part of the ongoing multi-million pound project to protect the vulnerable coastal rail link. 

Network Rail’s South West Rail Resilience Programme is moving into its final phases after years of work including the innovative sea wall at Dawlish and the new overbridge and lift at the station. 

This cliff work part of the scheme, which began in the summer, will carry on in 2024. 

A Network Rail spokesman said: ‘Thank you to our neighbours for your patience.’