‘DESPERATE’ residents have been caught in a shocking photograph making dangerous attempts to cross a blocked part of the Kennetside path in east Reading.

Gas company SGN initially closed the Kennetside path at the bottom of Cholmeley Road up to the first railway bridge, where the River Kennet meets with the River Thames, from February 2 until March 9 to upgrade the gas equipment.

However, this has since been delayed, with final works set to be completed this week.

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The blocked pathway links the River Kennet to the River Thames, providing access via the Horsehoe Bridge to Tesco and King’s Meadow or by continuing along the same side of the river to Sonning.

As well as this link being closed, Network Rail have closed the Napier Road underpass from January 2021 until April 2021 to work on the tunnel, making access to the River Thames difficult.

Pedestrians and cyclist currently have to go to Reading Bridge to access King’s Meadow and Tesco and go via Wokingham Road, the A3290 and Thames Valley Park Drive to access Sonning by foot.

This led to some residents attempting a “scary” crossing, by walking on the other side of the rails which protect people from falling into the water.

According to Ellie Hunt, who took the photo and posted it on the East Reading Community group on Facebook, many people had been attempting this dangerous crossing.

One resident described it as a “desperate move”.

Meanwhile, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned people not to ignore the footpath closure signs.

SGN spokesman Bradley Barlow said:  "It has come to our attention that some local residents are taking dangerous steps to cross the river.

"We’d like to echo the comments from the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service – the footpath closure has been in place to keep everyone safe around our work area and we would strongly urge people not to take unnecessary risks to get around this closure."

He added: “We’re pleased to be completing our critical work to replace our gas governor near the Kennetside path in Reading later this week.

"We will be resurfacing our work area on Friday 19 March and access to the footway will be restored once this has been completed."