Access to the popular beauty spot, which was painted by Turner, has been closed since September when a technical survey suggested the imminent danger of landslip.
Recent technical measurements have shown actual slippage on the slope down to the river and strong gates have been installed to stop people using the footpath.
Thousands of people visit Kirkby Lonsdale every year to follow in the footsteps of Ruskin and enjoy the view which he described as ‘one of the loveliest in England, therefore in the world.’
And many who also used the footpath as a shortcut from town to the rugby club and recently opened caravan park now face a two mile detour. Access to St Mary’s graveyard is severely restricted too.
Cumbria County Council has responsibility for the footpath and took the decision to close it for health and safety reasons when the forecast for bad weather threatened further erosion.
However, Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council owns The Brow which is where many people sit to enjoy the view and they are now facing the prospect of having to raise £1 million to pay for work to help stabilise the area.
“For a town of just 2,000 people, it’s a heck of a challenge,” said town council deputy chair, Allan Muirhead.
“We are up against it. We have to fix it or let it go and that’s not on.”
The last successful campaign to repair the area was more than 30 years ago but a number of factors, including climate change, mean that even if the current campaign is successful and the work done, it’s likely that future generations may face the same challenge again in less than three decades.
The council has been advised that any work has to be paid up front and done between June and September all in one go so it is aiming for a 2023 start.
In the meantime, access has been gained to the Gazebo which might provide a viewpoint while The Brow is inaccessible though some branches would need removing to open up the view and, as the tree is in a Conservation Area, the church and Yorkshire Dales National Park have to give approval.
Despite the challenges, residents are behind the campaign and have already accepted a doubling of the precept they pay to the town council as part of their council tax which has put £100,000 in the kitty to start the appeal.
A charitable trust - The Friends of Ruskin’s View - is being established to front the fundraising and contributions have also started to roll into a Save Ruskin’s View bank account which has been opened. A bid for Heritage Lottery funding will be submitted too.
More information on the repairs needed and fundraising plans will be available at a public drop-in session on May 25 at Lunesdale Hall from 6-8pm and anyone wishing to support the campaign can write to the town council at 29, Main Street, Kirkby Lonsdale.
“We are hoping we get as much help as possible from individuals and organisations, especially those with a special connection to Ruskin’s View as it’s a place that’s important to the economy of the town,” said Coun Muirhead.