AFTER more than a decade of argument, the Yorkshire Dales National Park has at last accepted the idea of a 350-mile equine Pennine Way - a horse riders' trail running from Derbyshire almost to Hadrian's Wall.
Significantly, all the rest of the route has long been agreed - but a handful of residents in the Upper Ribblesdale area had objected because they said it would bring in too many extra visitors.
That row made headlines in the national press in 1990 and it has taken 12 years for the park to agree in principle to a route which will extend from Long Preston to Settle, Stainforth, Feizor, Clapham, Selside, across Newby Head to Garsdale onto the Moorcock Inn and out of the Park through Mallerstang.
When complete in 2004 it will give walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers a new national trail through the Dales.
Park chairman Steve Macaré - re-elected for his fourth term this week - commented: "This authority first considered the proposed Pennine Bridleway back in 1990. The decision we have taken will see us seek to resolve the last remaining problems and get on with establishing the route, which come 2004 will give public access along a new national trail through the park.
"By endorsing the Pennine Bridleway we are recognising the role that well managed rights of way play in enabling visitors to enjoy, appreciate and understand this area whilst contributing to the local economy, with users staying locally and using local services.
"At the same time we have recognised that we need to do more work on the detail of the approved route and, in particular, the options for variations to mitigate any environmental concerns."
The original plan back in 1990 led to a classic Dales squabble, although the original proposals envisaged the bridleway being used mainly by horse riders. Despite this, some locals in the Horton-Selside area complained that their peace and quiet was at risk - an attitude which infuriated local small business owners dependent on the tourist trade.
Such opposition, however, became hard to justify after foot and mouth revealed in all its horror just how much of Dales economic life is dependent on visitors.