AFTER more than a decade of controversy, walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders will have a new, designated route to explore through the Yorkshire Dales from today (18 August, 2005) as the latest phase of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail is opened.
The trail will eventually cover about 350 miles from Derbyshire almost to the Scottish border, a riders' equivalent of the Pennine Way, and parts of it have already been completed in Derbyshire and Lancashire.
The Dales section, however, was held up by planning squabbles which started over ten years ago when a small number of residents in Upper Ribblesdale complained that an invasion of horses and their riders would spoil their peace and quiet.
Today will see the opening of the first ten miles of the Dales section of the trail, the so-called Settle Loop, which runs from Settle eastwards towards Malham. Eventually, the Dales section will cover 52 miles from Long Preston to Hell Gill Bridge on the Yorkshire/Cumbria border.
Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) Chairman Carl Lis said: "This is a fantastic achievement. Today is the culmination of months of extremely hard work by the Countryside Agency and the national park authority.
"It is a major project that will eventually see the Pennine Bridleway stretching from north to south through the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Loop will provide a boost to the local economy and another chance for people to explore the beautiful Dales."