Today saw the official opening ceremony for the Pennine Bridleway as President of The British Horse Society, Martin Clunes, cut the ribbon at Far Moor Bridge, near Selside.
Natural England today marked the official opening of the Pennine Bridleway in a ceremony at the award winning Far Moor Bridge in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Martin Clunes, actor and President of The British Horse Society (BHS), cut the ribbon to declare all 330km of the National Trail open. Also there to celebrate the Trail were Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria County Councils and the event hosts, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
It is the only National Trail specifically designed for horse-riders, but also offers a fabulous route for mountain-bikers and walkers. The bridleway – England’s third longest National Trail – starts at Middleton Top, in Derbyshire, winding its way through the Peak District to the steep-sided valleys of the south Pennines. From there it heads north to the scenic limestone of the Yorkshire Dales National Park before skirting the western edge of the majestic North Pennines to finish at Street, near Ravenstone in Cumbria. It has been achieved in partnership with nine local authorities and mainly funded by Natural England and an award of £1.8 million from Sport England.
To create this flagship route for riders, cyclists and walkers:
· 140 agreements with land owners have created new bridleways on land with no previous access or upgraded footpaths to bridleways.
· 105km of brand new bridleway has been created
· around £10 million has been spent in creating the 330 km trail to acquire new bridleway rights and construct a sustainable high quality trail suitable for all users.
209km of the route is already open and the remaining 121 km are now complete. The route attracts visitors from all over the country and many new businesses have opened and existing businesses expanded to cater for these visitors. The latest section will extend the route attracting more visitors and creating opportunities to support the local economy
Natural England Chair, Poul Christensen said “We are delighted to have completed the Pennine Bridleway route which provides outstanding opportunities to enjoy some of England’s finest countryside and is a fantastic asset for tourism in the north of England. This has been a genuine joint effort and we are grateful to all partners in the Pennine Bridleway and to all the landowners who’ve helped make this possible.”
BHS Chief Executive Graham Cory emphasised the multi-user nature of the route. “The fact that riders, cyclists and walkers will all be able to use this excellent new facility lends weight to the Society’s long held view, strongly supported by Defra Minister Richard Benyon, that the best value for the greatest number is achieved when all off-road routes are open to all non-motorised, vulnerable users.”
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Countryside Services with North Yorkshire County Council, said: “The County Council is delighted to have been a part of the partnership delivering this magnificent route. We look forward to the many benefits the route will undoubtedly bring to the residents and businesses of the area and also to the visitors who will now have even more opportunity to explore this inspiring landscape.”
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Chairman Carl Lis said: “We are really pleased that Natural England has chosen the iconic bridge at Far Moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for its official opening of the Pennine Bridleway. The route is a superb recreational asset for the National Park and a great way to explore the area’s many special qualities. We are particularly pleased to be able to share this occasion with the many partners and individuals who have helped the route come to fruition.”
Councillor Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for countryside access, said: “ We have been working closely with Natural England over many years to develop and secure the Pennine Bridleway, and are delighted to see the launch of this new National Trail in Cumbria. Its current northern terminus near Kirby Stephen and the proposed link to the town is good news for Cumbria – providing a great recreational experience for users of the trail and local economic opportunities for businesses providing accommodation, food and other support services.”
As a result of extensive informal engagement with our partners, Natural England has launched a targeted consultation on proposals for the future management of National Trails, aimed at our partners who are involved in the current management of National Trails, as well as trail user groups. The consultation will run from 8 weeks from 10th May 2012 until 5th July 2012.