British Horse Society President Martin Clunes has formally opened a new right of way designed specifically for horse riders.
The Pennine Bridleway in Yorkshire spans three counties and provides 330km of safe off-road riding in stunning scenery. The new National Trail is England’s third-longest and cost around £10 million, primarily from Natural England and including an award of £1.8 million from Sport England.
In a ceremony at the Yorkshire Dales’ award-winning Far Moor Bridge, Martin cut the ribbon to declare the new route officially open to riders, cyclists and walkers. Also at the Trail’s launch were Natural England and Lancashire, North Yorkshire and Cumbria County Councils as well as the event hosts, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The Trail represents a huge achievement in terms of access, with 105km of brand new bridleways created and 140 agreements created with landowners where footpaths or no access previously existed.
Beginning at Middleton Top in Derbyshire, the route continues through the Peak District, south Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines before finishing near Ravenstone in Cumbria. 209km of the Trail is already open, with the remaining 121km now completed.
The route has been achieved in partnership with nine local authorities and attracts visitors from all over the UK, as well as new local businesses and means of supporting the local economy.
BHS Chief Executive Graham Cory said: “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 vulnerable users.
“This will no doubt boost local economies but it also highlights the importance of developing even more links throughout our fragmented network.”
Natural England has now launched a targeted consultation on proposals for the future management of National Trails, aimed at trail user groups and partners involved in the current National Trails management. The consultation runs until 5 July 2012.
BHS North West Yorkshire and Ride Yorkshire teamed up for this one-off occasion to hold a special Pennine Bridleway Pleasure Ride the following weekend, which proved very successful.