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Working for walkers and mountain bikers

Walkers and cyclists heading for the summit of Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales National Park will find the going much easier – thanks to a massive donation from a local business which provided 140 tonnes of gritstone to reinforce a busy bridleway leading to the summit. Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Area Ranger Steve Hastie then arranged to shift it in loads of almost one tonne in a hopper underneath a helicopter. Steve said, “This is a busy path and needed a bit of TLC to keep it in good condition. The donation has enabled us to top-dress the path surface to complete restoration work that began last summer and the fact that the stone has been moved such a short distance is a real bonus." In 1986, the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology carried out a study of the condition of the path network in the Three Peaks area and concluded that the region had the sad distinction of possessing the most severely eroded network in the UK. The following year, the first Three Peaks Project was established by the YDNPA with a staff of 13. Its remit included trialling new path-engineering and re-vegetating techniques to provide sustainable routes and to allow damaged surrounding land to recover. The mid-90s and early 2000s saw a number of externally-funded projects completed, each with one or two extra staff appointed. However, since 2004, the management and maintenance of the Three Peaks network has reverted back to the YDNPA’s Rangers – a team of just two officers covering the whole of the wider Ribblesdale area. The latest project aims to create a sustainable source of both practical and financial support that will help protect and enhance the area and the rights of way network into the future. Since its launch, many of the charities that regularly use the Three Peaks for sponsored events have volunteered to donate money towards the upkeep of the area. The YDNPA has produced merchandise to celebrate walking one, two or all of the peaks and has launched the Friends of the Three Peaks, a group being set up to help support the Authority’s work in the area. Anyone can join by making a suggested minimum annual donation of £10. The Authority aims this year to have an events programme members can take part in, with activities like Area Ranger-guided walks and chances to do practical things like path maintenance. They will also be kept up to date with developments in the project through a newsletter. Anyone wanting to become a Friend can log on to the YDNPA website at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/threepeaks and follow the pages to join online. Photo credit: Hanson Aggregates

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