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Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly...and in the attempt to create an 'anonymised' version to post I think I've found the problem!!
So by 'Protected View'...it is opening in Excel with the following warning
initially I thought (wrongly!) this has been the way the file had been set up...however what is actaully the problem is that the file is originally created/saved in 'Excel 3' (I'm no spring-chicken...and I don't remeber this version, so the portal we get the file from must be super-ancient!!). It is actaully Excel that is opening the file in a 'Protected' environment. We can change these in the following setting in Excel Option -> Trust Centre -> Trust Centre Settings
This also means I was unable to re-produce an 'anonymised' version of my file, as Excel won't let me save any earler than Excel 2005 (and rightly so!)
I suspect that the error Alteryx is generating is that the current JET driver can't read such on old file type (usually the issue is not having the latest driver...this one is that the driver isn't old enough!!). However we're not (even if we could find such an old driver) roll it back just for this file. We'll probably try to speak with the Portal owner, or re-save the files as part of the process prior to bringing into Alteryx
I'll leave this post up in case anyone else has a similar error.
Sometimes it just a help to talk/think through the problem!!