Local school children – and their parents – were all smiles at the official opening of the Swale Trail, the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s first ‘family friendly’ mountain bike trail.
Pupils from Reeth and Gunnerside school were joined at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting event by local B&B owners, contractors and volunteers – as well as an enthusiastic group of riders from Stage1 Cycles in Hawes.
The Swale Trail is a valley bottom route 20km (12 miles) in length between Reeth and Keld, of which 70% is on unsurfaced tracks. It has been designed specifically for young mountain bikers and families who want to ride together.
The project, managed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), has cost a total of £221,000, with funding coming from The Yorkshire Dales LEADER programme (£98,000), Richmondshire District Council’s Economic Growth Fund (£50,000), the YDNPA (£60,000), and the Pennine Trails National Trails Partnership (£13,000).
YDNPA member and Richmondshire District Council Leader, Yvonne Peacock, performed the ribbon-cutting. She said: “Yorkshire has become an internationally famous destination for cycling – and The Swale Trail is one way of capitalising on that. I hope it will bring more families into Swaledale to enjoy the fantastic scenery and to make the most of the hospitality and other businesses that are here.
“The timing of the Swale Trail opening couldn’t have been better, as in just a few days’ time Richmondshire will be hosting part of the Tour de Yorkshire. Yorkshire is going cycling mad all over again.”
YDNPA Head of Access and Engagement, Mark Allum, said: “The National Park has plenty to offer for experienced and fit cyclists, with challenging mountain bike trails and fantastic road cycling. But we’ve lacked an easier route where people can get started on a bike and where young families can ride together. The Swale Trail changes that. It is a unique facility in the National Park, providing an outstanding opportunity for people to immerse themselves in the iconic landscape of Swaledale. Along the trail, people will also have the chance to discover more about Swaledale’s Viking history and the lead miners who left their mark on the valley.
“I would like to thank all the funders – and also North Yorkshire County Council for its support, as well as the landowners and farmers along the Trail. Thanks also to the contractor Conservefor and Area Ranger Michael Briggs. Their hard work has made the Trail a reality.”
The creation of the Swale Trail has involved considerable construction works to upgrade a number of bridleways and unsurfaced roads . A section of bridleway which had fallen into the river has been diverted, gates have been improved and new fingerposts installed. A new leaflet and pages on the YDNPA’s popular www.cyclethedales.org.uk website have also been produced.