RANGERS in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
have taken to the saddle - to learn from the horse's mouth about problems facing riders using the park's 400 miles of bridleway.
Fourteen rangers, who normally travel by Land Rover or on foot, mounted up- with members of the British Horse Society
and staff of the Yorkshire Dales Trekking Centre
- and discovered that riding in the Dales is not always the problem-free pleasure it should be.
Apart from the fact that many bridleways have been churned up by off-road vehicles and trial motor bikes - one of the longest running controversies in the Dales - the rangers learned that riders also have troubles with difficult to open gates, boggy ground, and overgrown bridleways.
Commented Alan Hulme, a park regional manager: "It was a fun afternoon with a serious side to it. Currently some of the bridleways in the National Park clearly do not add to the enjoyment of riding in the area."
Sue Rigby, from the BHS, said: "To date, meetings with the national park have been held around a table in a meeting room. This afternoon was a little different, giving the rangers a new perspective and the chance to experience the bridleways on four legs instead of two."
In the coming months the park authority will undertake a survey of the National Park's bridleway network. The survey will highlight where improvements can be made to the network and allow the Authority to plan its future maintenance programmes with the horse rider in mind.