Wheelchair users and walkers with limited mobility will soon be able to enjoy new views of Upper Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, thanks to a new level path between Buckden and Hubberholme. The facelift comes courtesy of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and the National Trust, and the work will be carried out by YDNPA Ranger staff, Dales Volunteers and National Trust staff and volunteers over the next week.
“This route has always been popular as a shorter walk from Buckden to visit the historic church or the pub at Hubberholme – or just to sit by the river,” explains the Authority’s Upper Wharfedale Area Ranger, Michael Briggs said. “The improvements will make it accessible to wheelchair users and others with limited mobility and it will enable people to get nearly all the way to Hubberholme before having to get onto the narrow road.”
Richard Humpidge, Head Warden for the National Trust, adds: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with the National Park to open up a lovely section of riverside path for all users. The National Trust is keen to enable as many visitors as possible to get out in to the fabulous Dales landscape.”
Meanwhile, a far-reaching £3.2 million action plan has been drawn up to deal with extensive damage to the county’s vast network of public rights of way in last November’s devastating floods – allowing the Lake District National Park to repair or replace all of the 253 bridges and 85 paths destroyed or damaged in the most extreme weather conditions in living memory.
In a joint initiative between the LDNP Authority and Cumbria County Council, work is being rolled out in a four-year programme. It includes widespread repair and reconstruction, replacing gates, stiles and signs in a county boasting 7,500 km of footpaths, bridleways and byways. England’s second largest rights of way system – equivalent to Cumbria’s total road network – saw £1.7m worth of damage caused in the national park and £1.5m throughout the rest of the county. Work is expected to be completed in 2013.
“We are determined to carry out the work in ways that will lessen the effects of future extreme weather,” explains the LDNP’s new paths for the public co-ordinator, Dylan Jackman. “In particular, we will be looking at methods which will give us some flood resilience. Wherever possible, we will be using local materials and contractors, when needed. We know there is urgency from both residents and visitors to restore the rights of way that form a vital part of our world renowned landscape.”
Finally, a well-used footpath in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has re-opened after repairs were carried out to a flood-damaged bridge. Heavy rain virtually demolished one support of the bridge (as seen left), which takes the Langthwaite-Reeth footpath across Slei (correct) Gill in Arkengarthdale.
The damage left it in a dangerous state and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) – which maintains more than 800 bridges on behalf of county councils – took the decision in September last year to close the footpath each side of it. With the help of Dales Volunteers, Ragged Robins Rangers and YDNPA apprentice James Firth, the support has been rebuilt and the bridge is now being used by walkers.
Ian Broadwith, the Authority’s Area Ranger for Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, said: “The previous support was more or less completely undercut during one night’s heavy rain, causing it to slip into the river and leaving the existing bridge twisted and in mid-air. It is fantastic that, with the help of volunteers and with the cooperation of the land owner, we have managed to salvage the existing bridge. It was a real team effort and I’d like to thank everyone who helped. Hopefully it will last for a long time to come.”