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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 12:51 GMT
'Dangerous' stepping stones to go
Fountains Abbey estate
The Fountains estate attracts 300,000 visitors every year
Stepping stones at a North Yorkshire beauty spot are to be removed after 50 years because they pose a health and safety risk, the National Trust said.

The stones, at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon in North Yorkshire, will go after several accidents happened there, the trust said.

Recently the stones have been fenced off during wet weather and signs have warned visitors of the dangers.

The 822-acre Fountains estate attracts about 300,000 visitors every year.

The stones cross the canal in the Studley Royal Water Garden.

They were introduced in 1991 to replace an earlier set from the 1950s which had worn down.

Head injuries

A National Trust spokeswoman said: "Over the last couple of years the National Trust has seen a rise in the number of accidents on the stepping stones.

"These have included major head injuries that have required hospital treatment.

"A number of young children have also suffered injury after running and playing across the stones.

"Following consultation, the National Trust has taken the difficult decision that the risk presented by the stepping stones is unacceptable and that their removal is the safest option."

She added that the trust had spoken to officials at Harrogate Borough Council who also backed the move.

A bridge a few feet away is an alternative route across the canal for visitors to complete the circular walk around the water garden.

Fountains Abbey was declared a World Heritage site in 1987 and was acquired by the trust from North Yorkshire County Council in 1983.

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