After more than seven years of discussion and hard graft the Pennine Bridleway national trail will be officially opened next week. It heralds a brave new world where horsey types, lycra fetishists and wooly-socked ramblers can all learn to share.
This new National Trail in the north of England is unusual in that its entire course is designed to be used by horse riders, off-road cyclists and walkers. The trail stretches 330km from Middleton Top in Derbyshire to Street, near Ravenstonedale in Cumbria and makes use of ancient packhorse trade routes and cattle drove roads that have been connected by new links.
The creation of the trail has been made possible to date mainly through financial support from Natural England and a Sport England award of £1.8 million.
The official opening of the Pennine Bridleway will take place at Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales on June 12 with a ceremony marking the completion of the final stage in the trail, the 85-mile section running through the Yorkshire Dales from the South Pennines to the south of Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria.
Peter Lambert, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's Pennine Bridleway Officer, said:
'It's fantastic that, after so many years of work, our section is almost finished – it will be one of the final pieces in the national trail's jigsaw. It has been a long process involving a huge amount of planning as well as hours of discussions and meeting with farmers and landowners and all the other organisations whose help has been vital.'
'There were times when the end seemed a long way off but we can all now look forward to the big day of the official opening. I would just like to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone who has helped us in the process – without them it wouldn't have happened.'
Anna Righton, Natural England's Pennine Bridleway Project Manager, said:
'I'm delighted to see the Pennine Bridleway National Trail being opened – it's a fantastic Trail through some of England's most beautiful landscapes and the best possible tribute to the hard work of our staff and partners. It's very exciting that horse-riders and mountain bikers and walkers have this brilliant flagship route through the Yorkshire Dales.'
The finishing touches are apparently being made to a series of eight A4-sized maps showing the route at a scale of 1:40,000 along with gradient profiles and other useful information which will be available on the National Trail website
A section of the Pennine Bridleway is detailed in this UKH Route Card.