FOR the first time since last year's foot and mouth outbreak, a helicopter is back in operation in the Yorkshire Dales National Park carrying in supplies of path repair materials to remote corners of the Dales.
The park authority uses helicopters to lift in materials to certain areas as an alternative to vehicles, which can often damage the very routes the authority has set out to maintain.
But there have been no flights since last spring and this week's efforts are part of the park's plans to attract visitors back after the FMD disaster. The high costs involved have been funded by Yorkshire Forward, the Countryside Agency, the National Trust and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.
A helicopter is lifting in materials at three locations: on the Pennine Way as it crosses Great Shunner Fell north of Hawes; on Buckden Pike above the village of Buckden; and Brackenbottom just out of Horton in Ribblesdale.
Over the week a total of 420 tonnes of stone flags and aggregate will be dropped in place, which in the coming weeks will be used to resurface a number footpaths and bridleways ready for the start of the new visitor season.
Alan Hulme, a park regional manager, commented: "These three projects were held over from last year when our rights of way maintenance programme was put on hold following the onset of foot and mouth disease.
"In one week we will be able to lift in all the materials needed to pave or resurface over two kilometres of remote footpaths and bridleways. These works will contribute to getting the Dales ready for the new season when we hope the walkers, cyclists and horse riders will return and enjoy the very best of the British countryside."