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Former railway from Hawes A view west along the route of the old railway from the former Hawes station

Next stop for former railway line 

Friday 18 March, 2022, by News Release

The future of a six-mile stretch of disused railway in Upper Wensleydale is to be discussed by Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

A report on a possible ‘Hawes-Garsdale Multi-User Route’ will recommend Members support the principle of creating a bridleway – which would be suitable for horse riders, cyclists, walkers and those with limited mobility – along the scenic former railway line.

The report, to be made public on Monday in advance of the National Park Authority meeting on Tuesday 29 March, also recommends carrying out a survey to determine the level of public support for the proposal. 

The railway closed in 1959 and there is currently no public access along it between Hawes and Garsdale.  

The current Yorkshire Dales National Park Local Plan supports the reinstatement of a railway along the route, as well as a parallel recreational path. However, a feasibility study carried out on behalf of the National Park Authority and Richmondshire District Council has concluded there is room only for a railway or multi-user route, not both.

The National Park Authority’s Member Champion for Recreation Management Nick Cotton said: “Through the National Park Management Plan we have a shared commitment with local councils and other local groups to create another family-friendly cycling route in the National Park. This has a number of advantages, but the main one for me is to allow children and their families to get off a busy road and cycle in a safe and secure environment.

“The former branch line between Garsdale Station and Hawes Station, which is now the Dales Countryside Museum, has been one of the suggestions where such a route might be developed. The next steps are for the Authority to discuss the matter and, if it is supportive of progressing it, to seek the views of the public.”

The report to the NPA meeting will be published here, alongside the other meeting papers, on Monday.

Questions & Answers

What is a multi-user route?

A multi-user route in this instance is a bridleway, suitable for horse riders, cyclists, walkers and those with limited mobility. Three new multi-user routes have already been established at Malham Tarn, Greenfield Forest, and the Swale Trail in Swaledale.

Why is this being proposed?

The current and previous National Park Management Plans (B9) have included a commitment to create family-friendly cycling routes:

Promote and encourage responsible cycling by supporting world class events that showcase the National Park, enabling the development of four ‘cycle hubs’, and creating at least one further family-friendly cycling route by 2024.

Upper Wensleydale has the obvious potential to develop further as a cycle hub, with the Buttertubs and the Pennine Bridleway National Trail close by. The area would also benefit from a family-friendly route and enhance the offer for mixed ability parties. It would:

  • provide a safe user-friendly environment for children and others to experience cycling and horse riding away from the tarmacked road network, where the roads can be either too busy or narrow or steep and challenging.
  • enhance the tourism offer to the active family market, and in doing so boost the local economy. There is a plethora of examples of these popular trails in the UK e.g. the Camel Trail (Cornwall), Rutland Water or the Peak District Trails. The Dales is sadly lacking in such facilities.
  • attract younger people and families to come and live in the National Park by providing opportunity to make the most of the active lifestyle offered.
  • enable people, whatever their fitness, to benefit from the health and well-being offered by recreational activity and cycling in the National Park, and the associated connection with their natural environment.

But you’ve previously supported the reinstatement of the Wensleydale Railway and protected it from development for many years. Why this and not the railway?

The former Wensleydale Railway line has been protected from development by the Authority for many years.  The current Yorkshire Dales National Park Local Plan policy states:

BE6 – Development that would prejudice the reinstatement of the Wensleydale Railway, including operational land and station facilities, will not be permitted.

…Reinstatement of the line in stages will be permissible, if it is capable of being made reversible in the event that it is not successful. If the reconstruction of the line could also deliver a parallel recreational trail, then the joint infrastructure benefits would be much greater. The National Park Authority will therefore want to safeguard and investigate this possibility in parallel to the Wensleydale line.

In November 2019, the National Park Authority and Richmondshire District Council awarded a contract to consultants Arup to investigate the feasibility, likely cost and economic impact of developing a family-friendly multi-user route alongside the Wensleydale Railway line from Hawes to Garsdale.

The feasibility study was completed in July 2020. However, it was not made public at this time because in the same month the Upper Wensleydale Railway (UWR), a separate ‘breakaway body’ from the Wensleydale Railway Association, applied to the Department of Transport’s ‘Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund’ to reinstate the section of the railway line from Hawes to Garsdale Station.

The UWR’s bid was unsuccessful. The UWR decided to reapply and, in case the Arup feasibility study provided any useful information, it was made available for UWR’s re-bid. In November 2021, the UWR learnt that the re-bid had also been unsuccessful.

From the feasibility study it’s clear the options for the former railway line between Hawes and Garsdale Station are now either to continue with the effort to re-instate the railway or to look at the possibility of developing a multi-user bridleway route. 

Sadly, with the recent failure of two successive bids, the chance of reinstating the railway now seems very unlikely. We are therefore seeking views from the public to understand their demand for a multi-user bridleway route.

Why can’t a multi-user route sit alongside the existing railway?

The 2020 Arup feasibility study investigated the development of a family-friendly multi-user route alongside the Wensleydale Railway line from Hawes to Garsdale.

The original railway line was single track between Hawes and Garsdale and is approximately 4.5 metres wide. The feasibility study found that this is not wide enough to accommodate both a railway and a multi-user route in future.

Widening the route would be expensive due to the structures along the route, as well as the route being in a cutting or on an embankment at various points along its length.

What happens if your survey reveals widespread support for a multi-user route between Hawes and Garsdale?

Assuming support from the public, we would begin discussion with local and regional partners to look at ways to develop the scheme.

What happens if your survey reveals a lack of support for a multi-user route between Hawes and Garsdale?

In the event there is a lack of support for a multi-user route between Hawes and Garsdale, we will not do any further work on this scheme. We are already working with partners elsewhere on possible routes in and on the edge of the National Park.

Will you have to introduce compulsory purchase orders to enable the development of a multi-user route between Hawes and Garsdale?

No – compulsory purchase orders do not relate to the creation of a public right of way because landownership remains unchanged. Instead, a legal right of way would be established over the land, either by completion of a Creation Agreement or a Creation Order. It is likely that several Creation Orders will be required to establish the route as a bridleway. 

Under the Environment Act 1995, all National Park Authorities have powers to make Creation Orders, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has experience of doing so through implementing the Pennine Bridleway in the National Park. 

The Authority would need to be satisfied that the statutory tests set out in the legislation (Highways Act 1980) for Creation Orders were met.

Compensation is payable to a landowner if the Order is confirmed and the landowner can establish that the value of their interest in the land is depreciated, or that they have suffered damage by being disturbed in their enjoyment of the land as a consequence of the Creation Order.

How much will this cost, and where will the money come from?

The high-level budget estimate for re-opening the route as a bridleway is between £4.6 million and £5.13 million, with the economic benefits forecast to be in the region of £1.02 million per annum.

Funding options will be explored with local and regional partners, if there is public support for the scheme.

Can I download a copy of the feasibility study findings?

Yes, you can download that  here.

What happens next?

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority will meet to discuss the development of a multi-user route between Hawes and Garsdale at its meeting in Leyburn on Tuesday 29 March 2022.

Should Members indicate their support, in principle, for the multi-user route, then public views will be sought via an online survey which will be live from 29 March to 22 April 2022.

A summary report of the responses will be prepared and presented to the Chair and Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and subsequently made public.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Picture of News Release

News Release

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Website: www.yorkshiredales.org.uk

36 Replies to “Next stop for former railway line ”

  1. Rev David Clark says:

    A very interesting idea. Disappointing about the railway as this should surely be the future for large scale transport links into the Dale from an economic and climate viewpoint.

  2. Ian Black says:

    Absolutely! Great idea should be extended the other way as well. We need more of this, times have changed.

  3. colin Luckett says:

    A brilliant idea which will benefit both local people and tourists. Having had lunch at the bike shop/cafe ar Reeth on Saturday I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people are using the Swale Trail.
    The proposal will bring considerable economic benefits to Upper Wensleydale, and the use of the land as a railway is not feasible nor economically viable.

  4. Alan Graham says:

    I can only conclude that the national park committee has gone tonto. Either that or its members are all cyclists and horse riders.
    Just because the people behind the railway haven’t been successful straightaway they must think that’s it.
    Perhaps someone should tell them that the people who reinstated the rest of the Wensleydale railway further down the dale had to overcome far greater hurdles including know it alls who claimed it would never happen.
    Don’t hear much from them now do you?
    Of course the track needs to be returned to being a railway. Instead of looking wet, the authority should be looking at how it can work to support the railway reinstatement. Honestly it makes you wonder if common sense flies out of the window with public bodies. The horse riders and walkers have any amount of other places they can go to do their thing. The railway hasn’t.
    Just stating the flipping obvious.

  5. Ian Ring says:

    The trackbed of the railway needs to be protected so that, in due time, the railway can be reinstated between Garsdale and Northallerton via Hawes Aysgarth Leyburn and Bedale. Another route needs to be found for the multi-user route

  6. B R Wright says:

    If the old track bed was to be re-instated for trains then in the day and age this would be a better proposition since it could encourage visitors off the Settle and Carlisle line, also the line could be used for the transportation of goods. Taking HGV and vans of the roads, surely this should be encouraged.

  7. Mark Harvey says:

    Thank-you for protecting the route, for considering options and for awaiting the outcome of the UWR bids. The current walking routes between Hawes and Garsdale Station are tortuous, extremely dangerous, or both. Prior to the pandemic, the bus service and its train connections were just about adequate for leisure purposes, but not much else (and only if the number of passengers was tiny and for passengers who do not suffer from travel sickness induced by the windy & bumpy road). The reinstatement of a railway would be ‘nice’ and the creation of a public right of way would be better than nothing. However, these are NOT the only options. For example: could the alignment be used for a tramway or a guided busway or both? Could one or either of these options be progressed in a manner that facilitates shared use of the route by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders (along with the trams / buses)? Trams and buses can – and do – run safely in busy pedestrian areas of city centres, while existing train-tram technology allows through running from tramway track to mainline railway elsewhere in the UK. The Arup report does not mention the word tram or bus. Not once. Why not? I believe that this is a serious omission. I further believe that the YDNPA has an obligation (certainly moral and perhaps also legal) to properly and fully consider ALL of the options before committing a large amount of public money to ANY new scheme along the former railway alignment. I further believe that this is especially important when ecological and sustainability issues are (or ought to be) centre-stage. I formally request that this matter be brought to the attention of the meeting on 29th March 2022 and that the discussions and decisions be minuted. Thank-you.

    • Mark Sadler says:

      Hi Mark.

      I attach a link to the paper that Members of the National Park Authority will be considering at their meeting on 29 March (item 8). You’ll see that we are asking Members to support in principle the development of a multi-user route using the disused railway between Garsdale Station and Hawes and for a public survey to be carried out to ascertain support. We have made clear that, in the event there is a lack of support for a multi-user route between Hawes and Garsdale, we will not do any further work on this scheme. We are already working with partners elsewhere on possible routes in and on the edge of the National Park.

      https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/meeting/full-authority-meeting-29-march-2022/

      • Mark Harvey says:

        Hello Mark Sadler,
        Thank-you for the reply. My primary concerns at this point are that the Arup report does not include (or refer to) a comprehensive review of public transport in the area (present or future) and that it does not consider any other options for the use of the former railway alignment. Has the YDNPA fully explored alternative uses for the former alignment or considered the role that it could play in the wider context of public transport links to / from the National Park? If not, I believe that doing so should be ‘the next step’ (i.e BEFORE the YDNPA expresses formal support for a scheme that will make any such uses more difficult, more expensive and less likely to succeed).
        Mark Harvey

  8. Dr A Sharma says:

    The A684 is a tortuous road route whether for cyclists or cars. As the Dales Rail experiment has shown, there is demand from the public to reach the Dales by means other than road. I am strongly in favour of the YD NPA supporting and advocating the resumption of railway services between Garsdale and Hawes. The creation of any route/trail that precludes return to railway use should not be permitted.

  9. Richard Thomas Willis says:

    I think is premature to commit to a footpath/bridleway for the former railway as a sustainable transport link to the dales is essential whilst energy prices look to stay high for ever. They are not going to come down and we cannot afford to all have electric cars.

  10. Anthony Stevenson says:

    This is not a good way to go forward with proposed reinstatement of the railway. Should thr railway go ahead then the benifits of more tourists and less trafic on the roads will be an assett to the area.Bye all means have a footpath and bridel way alongside the railway.

  11. Brian Jones says:

    The idea of creating a bridleway on the railway track bed from Garsdale to Hawes is short-sighted and badly-thought-out at best.
    The proposal of preventing the reinstatement of this section of track bed by creating a bridleway is particularly naïve in view of the fact that alternative routes for a bridleway are available.
    The reinstating of the railway between Garsdale and Hawes would provide significant financial and cultural gains to the area and would open Hawes and the surrounding region to much-needed tourism in a far better way that a bridleway ever could.
    It is now widely accepted that rail will be the transport of the future for moving people around, and this fact alone would virtually guarantee prosperity for this section of the Yorkshire Dales.
    A bridleway would only be used by a relatively limited number of people, unlike the railway, which would bring tourists into the Yorkshire Dales from a very wide catchment area, which would eventually benefit everyone.

  12. William Hunt says:

    When the Wensleydale Railway Association was set up in the early 1990s the ultimate aim was for a rail link between the East Coast Main Line at Northallerton and the Settle-Carlisle line at Garsdale, a projected route which would have considerable potential for both freight as well as passenger traffic and which would link the conurbations of Teesside with those of West Lancashire. If we wish to attract people to the Yorkshire Dales National Park , whether as tourist visitors or as potential residents, then it is essential that the area is served by a rail infrastructure otherwise the alternative will be reliance purely on road transport with all the implications for congested roads and overcrowded car parking facilities, a situation which will be unsustainable in the small towns of Wensleydale. It seems to me that for national park countryside and towns to be accessed solely by road and without rail access is contrary to the conservation ethos which underlies the national park concept. The folly of road-orientated thinking must surely be evident in, for instance, the Lake District where towns like Keswick have reached traffic saturation point. If our society is to wean itself away from its chronic over-dependence on the private car then rail must be part of the solution to that problem and the track bed between Hawes and Garsdale must be reserved for rail restoration. Is it not possible for a recreational route to be constructed parallel to a railway route as has been done with the section of the Pennine Bridleway next to Garsdale railway station?

  13. Tony Hudson says:

    As a walker and a cyclist I do welcome dedicated routes away from motorised roadways. However, as a supporter of the Upper Wensleydale Railway (UWR) and Wensleydale Railway (WR), I do object in this case to the Multi- User route being considered on the old track bed of the Hawes to Garsdale railway. It has always been the aim of the Wensleydale Railway from its creation to restoring the link between Northallerton and Garsdale. The more recent activity of the UWR also amplifies the benefits of restoring the link, not as a heritage railway but as part of the national rail network service. As the ARUP report states that the Multi-User route cannot be accommodated alongside a rail link and the proposal is accepted, it means that the WR and UWR will never see a joined up rail link.

  14. Andrew Rigg says:

    The above proposal is so very costly when cycles can simply use the existing road network. The railway option remains the most sensible in terms of sustainability, tourism and infrastructure. A public enquiry would conclude with a balanced review. The cycle way proposal should be shelved in the mean time.

  15. David Byrne-Bellinger says:

    It makes much more sense to reinstate the railway.
    That would be a very sensible improvement for thw whole area and provide the much needed transport link.

  16. Andy Shackleton says:

    Mindful that the trackbed of the former six mile route is of insufficient width to accommodate both a reinstated rail line and the multi use route ….. this proposal therefore directly conflicts with the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s own policy ….. in that its current Local Plan supports the reinstatement of a railway along the route.

    At a time when we face a global crisis in the form of CO2-driven climate change, together with more recent gas/oil supply issues, we need to look to a future where there is an alternative to energy-hungry + increasingly congested and polluting road transport for both personnel and freight. And to obliterate a critical section of a former rail route that has the potential to complete a future strategic East-West link via Northallerton [on the East Coast Mail Line], Leyburn and Hawes to the prized Settle to Carlisle line is to drive coach + horses through a commitment (on your website) to “doing our bit to help to tackle climate change.” The more so when one considers that rail is the least CO2 intensive form of land transport.

    Further, it is clear that, whilst there is no alternative route that a reinstated rail line linking Hawes with Garsdale could take, it should not be beyond the wit and skills of those with the power to say “yes” to the selection of an alternative route for the multi-use bridleway ….. thus ensuring that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority can follow its own policy of supporting the future reinstatement of a strategic rail link in Wensleydale.

    Further still ….. fifty plus years on from slash and burn policies that saw so many rail routes swept away nationwide at the stroke of a pen, and mindful of the transformative effect on the communities they serve ….. economic growth/investment, traffic reduction/pollution et al ….. the government is set on reversing at least some of those closures via the ‘Restoring your Railway’ initiative.

    As though to make the point ….. this from their own website:

    “The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority was created to help to care for this very special place, its landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage, and to help people understand and enjoy it.”

    And then this:

    “In carrying out these purposes we also have a duty to try to do so in a way that supports the economic and social well-being of our local communities.”

    I couldn’t have put it better: the latter being an accurate description of what a rail service brings to the communities it serves and its visitors.

    My ask, then ….. would be that in the event of a multi-use route as per above being progressed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, it should be situated/designed such that it does not compromise future reinstatement of the former rail line linking Hawes with Garsdale.

    My final comment is the hope that, at a time when, for a whole heap of sound economic, social and environmental reasons the UK is once again embracing its railways and pursuing policies aimed at reopening long-disused routes, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority does not go down in history as the organisation that bucked the trend by making its own long term ambition of bringing back a potentially strategic rail service to communities within Upper Wensleydale an impossibility.

    I therefore look forward to a decision in favour of protecting that ambition. And with that, a future inclusive of properly connected Dales communities, car-free tourism, CO2 reduction et al: think about it!

  17. John Davies says:

    We seem to have an unnecessary choice between two projects, both of which would be highly desirable.
    (a) A leisure opportunity for cyclists, walkers and the like. This would be enjoyed by both locals and visitors. Bearing in mind populations, the latter would be more numerous one suspects.
    (b) A national public transport asset. Not just a branch line serving Hawes and Upper Wensleydale, but potentially a through east/west route (reopening of which is well under way to the east).
    It is worth noting that, as Upper Wensleydale is a remote area, it is not unlikely that many of the walkers and cyclists would arrive by car bringing in their equipment before starting their excursion. It has been much in evidence on the Wensleydale Railway that, if a way to carry cycles into the area by public transport is available, this will be used and the line is indeed keen to promote car-free access in this way. The West Highland Line is making this attractive by providing a full coach for outdoor enthusiasts and their equipment.
    Surely, it should not be beyond the skills of planners to arrange for both projects to progress to the advantage of all.
    Incidentally, as I understand it, the concept of the Upper Wensleydale Railway was not rejected by the DfT, but only an application for funds to plan it. The funds understandingly went to other important projects that were in a position to go ahead rapidly giving more political advantage.

  18. Geoff Hetherington says:

    There are already very cogently argued objections to the proposed multi-user recreational path being constructed along the disused railway line on this page. I would observe only that the report proposing this development makes much of the failure of the recent bids for funding from the “restore your railway” initiative, drawing the conclusion that re-opening the railway line is very unlikely. This is not a sound view. For the first time in the 60+ years since the railway closed, the government has finally realised the need to restore closed lines in order to meet various social and environmental imperatives and has made in the past year or so some funding available to develop proposals for re-opening lines. The fact that the Upper Wensleydale Railway has not been able to secure funding to progress re-opening of the Garsdale-Hawes line is not the end of the matter – there just happened to be more equally deserving re-opening schemes, many with longer campaigning histories and more developed plans, than there was money this time round. It is clear, though, that the direction of travel is towards a greater modal shift from road to rail and that the government will make more funding available for more re-openings, whether this year, next year or in subsequent years. In the comparatively short meantime (compared to how long this closed line has had to wait for the chance of re-opening), nothing should be done to further handicap or increase the costs of a re-opening of the line.

  19. Margaret Townsend says:

    I think using the Garsdale-Hawes line as a leisure opportunity for cyclists and walkers is an excellent idea. It would provide a safe space away from the fast traffic on our main roads for families and older people to enjoy activity in peaceful but accessible surroundings. It’s important that the National Parks provides access to all levels of ability and this sort of trail is idea for just that.

  20. Martin Perfect says:

    When the railway between Airdrie and Bathgate was rebuilt some years ago the cyclepath, which had occupied the trackbed, was relocated to run alongside – there was no need for it to be squeezed through cuttings or under bridges.
    I happened to be travelling along the route on Monday and although the sun was shining I didn’t see a single cyclist, it was however occupied by dozens of dog walkers who seem to be the main beneficiaries of these “mixed use” paths [to such an extent indeed that I personally prefer to cycle on public roads rather than face the dangers of a cyclepath!]
    The YDNPA, who appear to have plenty of money to burn, and their experts might take note of the Airdrie – Bathgate route, which is far from being the only case of a path parallelling a railway line.

  21. George Sidebottom says:

    The short-sighted decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) not to support the application by the Upper Wensleydale Railway (UWR) to reinstate the Garsdale to Hawes branch line, is consistent with what appears to be the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority assumption that most visitors will always access the Dales by road.
    The Yorkshire Dales roads are already congested, and the Dales villages, such as Reeth in Swaledale, have become unsightly car parks, destroying the atmosphere of those villages.
    As demonstrated by the Dales Rail venture, visitors (walkers, cyclists, tourists) from throughout northern England, and local residents, would support an alternative means of reaching the Dales. A comprehensive review of public transport in the area could, and should, have resulted in DfT support for the UWR rail scheme.
    From Garsdale (formerly Hawes Junction) on the Settle-Carlisle line, the reinstated branch line could transport visitors to Hawes, linking into an integrated network of bus routes throughout Wensleydale and Swaledale.
    Alternative alignments exist for a multi-user route, using public rights of way, but with negotiated deviations. An alternative route, agreed with a different, perhaps more supportive, group of landowners, could possibly avoid costly Creation Orders and payment of compensation to already wealthy landowners.
    The remote outpost of Garsdale is not exactly a ‘tourist destination’, and a multi-user route might become just a Hawes centred attraction for cyclists (where are all the horse riders). Even more vehicles would enter the National Park, with cycles either carried in or hired locally.
    Despite recent setbacks, the former Wensleydale Railway route should continue to be protected from development, and alternative multi-user routes should be surveyed.

  22. Whilst attractive, alternative routes for the bridleway are feasible, the railway can only follow its original alignment. It is a matter of deep concern, in view of the considerable public support for reinstatement, that the loss of opportunity to realise the wide-ranging environmental, transport, social and economic benefits of Bringing the Railway to Hawes and Upper Wensleydale is not properly considered in the proposal to the Members of the Authority.

    In this age of the Climate Emergency, the National Park faces significant challenges of balancing the needs of tackling climate change with the needs of millions of visitors many of whom travel to and around the Park by car. I would suggest that to hinder the advance of a sustainable transport initiative is in no way compatible with the radical solutions that this challenge requires.

    The decisions of the Department for Transport’s “Ideas Fund” were accompanied by substantial feedback that by no means excluded future reconsideration of the scheme to reinstate the railway from Garsdale to Hawes.

  23. Martin Perfect says:

    Having now read the ARUP report, which raised a few smiles, I am moved to pick up a couple of points.
    I note that several landowners, presumably farmers, seem to be unhappy at the idea and one can see why this might be: as I observed earlier the chief users of such paths in my experience are dog walkers – are there, by any chance, sheep in the area? In contrast a railway line contains its passengers harmlessly and would tend to exclude trespassers.
    Secondly it states that “on-carriageway active travel cycle routes” should desirably be on roads with usage below 1000 vehicles per day whereas on the A684 the frequency is 1365, that’s an average of less than 1 per minute [though I observe that the photographer has managed to get 2 moving cars into the same picture], this would be a B road in the South East! However I was pleased to see that it has a speed limit of 40 mph, surely this could be reduced to 30?
    Lastly although the bulk of those walking their dogs would probably be locals, at least at the Hawes end, which would certainly be the busiest section, most of the tourists riding their bikes will be bringing them on their roof-racks – that should improve the usage of the A684!

  24. Rob Haigh says:

    I’m a cyclist but my opinion is that the railway track should be restored and used as a railway. The future is with trains and public transport. Connecting two lines line this must add more flexibility to the network and allow more people to get off the roads and onto the trains.

    However, if all attempts fail to recover it as a railway then, rather than letting it go into further decline, it should be made in to a multi-use track. There should be a design constraint applied so that nothing is done that makes it more difficult or expensive to be converted back into a railway at a future date.

  25. David Hart says:

    The proposal to accept that this cross country, or county, rail line will never be built flies in the face of the governments stated aim of reducing private car usage where possible. The A684 is a poor substitute. Providing a multi user route is a laudable ambition, but so too is supporting the ambition of a good rail service along the Dale. With determination by the Park Authority, and ambition, both are possible. Despite initial setbacks, continuing to press the merits of the rail reopening case it is still quite possible to achieve government support and grant aid in time.
    Consider how long it took for government approval for the Channel Tunnel to eventually begin construction, never mind spades in the ground (or TBM’s) for HS2. Two rather different construction projects to Wensleydale I appreciate, but the point is the same.
    Please think again!

  26. Nicola Brooks says:

    This is the most amazing thing I’ve heard in a long while. We desperate in Wensleydale for a safe, easy, traffic free multiuser bridleways and this would be perfect. I can’t wait to hear more!
    Imagine having somewhere safe we could take the kids or somewhere accessible other than Cotter Force. It will be free to use and accessible by everyone.
    We’ll done YDNPA! This is exactly what we need to future proof our countryside, so everyone can enjoy it!

  27. Matt Greenwood says:

    What an excellent proposal from the YDNPA. There is a real need in the Dale for a safe and family friendly path, that can be accessed by people of all ages and abilities.

    Giving families and those with limited mobility a space to enjoy the countryside can only increase the number of visitors to the area and greatly benefit local cafe’s, shops, and hotels.

    From reading the report it can be clearly seen that the creation of the path would not negatively impact the original trackbed, so that in the future if there is a change of opinions in the Department for Transport, a new line could be established on top of the path.

  28. William Hunt says:

    I would like to draw the attention of the The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to two items in the latest ‘Railwatch’ magazine, published by the ‘Railfuture’ organisation: on page 5 is an article concerning the much-demanded reinstatement of a rail link to the town of Bideford in N. Devon and the point that, at present, the required trackbed to Bideford is occupied by a section of the Tarka Trail which is used by cyclists and walkers; on page 18 Ian Brown laments the inadequate level of accessibility between the railway system and the English national parks. He mentions that in The Peak District National Park hints of congestion charges to deter motorists are in evidence. If motorists need to be deterred then what is the alternative mode of access if rail is not available? If the Y.D.N.P. Authority goes ahead with the proposal to convert the Hawes – Garsdale trackbed into a leisure route then, like the Tarka Trail in Devon, they could, at a later date, find that the continuing pressure for reinstating railway links will force them to backtrack on their scheme.

  29. John Adams says:

    In Settle the owners of B&B, guest houses, self-catering have prospered since the S&C railway was saved, promoted, developed. I suggest that the same benefits are more likely to accrue to similar businesses in Wensleydale from a railway connection than simply the creation of a multi-use bridleway.
    Why not develop both amenities which would benefit both residents and visitors. Do it properly and get Hawes re-connected to Askrigg and Redmire by rail.

  30. Alec Horner says:

    I totally agree with the previous comments stating that whilst attractive, alternative routes for the bridleway are feasible, the railway can only follow its original alignment. It is a matter of deep concern, in view of the considerable public support for reinstatement, that the loss of opportunity to realise the wide-ranging environmental, transport, social and economic benefits of re-instating the railway to Hawes and Upper Wensleydale is not properly considered in the proposal to the Members of the Authority.

    In this age of the Climate Emergency, the National Park faces significant challenges of balancing the needs of tackling climate change with the needs of millions of visitors many of whom travel to and around the Park by car. The bridleway would have very limited public transport access and would encourage yet more car traffic. The National Park Authority should be promoting the advance of a sustainable transport initiative and the bridleway proposal is NOT compatible with the radical solutions that this challenge requires.

    If the Wensleydale line is eventually re-instated for its full length it would encourage sustainable tourism which would benefit the whole National Park and give potential access to many parts of the country, not just cities such as Manchester and the surrounding areas, but also the whole of the East Coast main line through an interchange at Northallerton

  31. Tim says:

    As someone who grew up in Grosmont, North Yorkshire I really can see the benefits of the line being reinstated. The Dales are incredibly popular with tourists and that would be further boosted by having a fully operating line.The Wensleydale Railway could host many more events and galas which could be incredibly profitable for local business up and down the line. I’m sure too that it would help to ease congestion on the roads during busy summer months as I would be more than happy to visit via rail links. I hope that many of the old lines are reinstated in the future. It really is an answer to many problems in my view.

  32. Anthony Lloyd says:

    As a person who doesn’t have a car, it is vital to re connect former branch lines to the main line network, which is why it is important to connect the Settle/Carlisle line with the East Coast Main line at Northallerton. For all those people without cars from further afield living in West and South Yorkshire, it would be an incentive to make use of a through route, between Garsdale and Northallerton. Visitors would be attracted from these areas, The track bed must be preserved at all costs and protected from being turned into a cycle path. As a member of the WRA, I look forward to the day, when I can travel from Garsdale to Northallerton or to stop off at Hawes, and book accommodation. I am sure there could be alternative cycle paths constructed which would suit those people interested in cycling/walking. The restoring and opening former branch lines for rail travel all over the country is to be encouraged and recommended.

  33. Russell says:

    How very odd that after six decades of doing nothing, as soon as there’s the real possibilty of re-making the rail link for Upper Wensleydale various interests decide there’s suddenly a call for a “multi-user” (but not for the very young, the elderly or infirm) route on the existing trackbed of the railway.

    The absurdity of placing anything in the way of rebuilding the final link in a railway which joins Northallerton and the East Coast Main Line to the Settle-Carlisle line and would provide a transport link for Wensleydale with the Vale of Eden and Lake District is breath-taking.

    I’m a cyclist and walker who would usually be all in favour of a railway track bed route – see how fantastically the Peak District National Park has managed their trackbeds for years – but surely anyone with just one gram of common sense or awareness of what’s around them can see a path for cyclists or walkers should not EVER get in the way of providing a nationwide-accessible rail route.

  34. DH says:

    In 1993 I worked for Sustrans to deliver a cycle route between Airdrie and Bathgate, using the trackbed of the railway closed between Bathgate and Drumgelloch at this time

    We built the route with a clear awareness that it might in future be reopened, and negotiated deviations both within the land transferred and with local landowners

    Just over a decade later I was the site agent for Sustrans to enable survey rigs to drill logs to determine the ground conditions, given the presence of many mine workings, until the formal transfer of the route back to Network Rail for construction, with the caveat that a parallel route for the cycle path was created

    This is not as impossible as some might make out, as I’ve worked on routes that share cuttings and bridge spans with live rail lines, and the path actually provides a ‘blue zone’ route to get to & from trackside equipment away from the ‘red zone’ with trains running. Basic management of vegetation and structures also preserves the route

    Securing a well considered route / wayleave for a path delivers a ready to roll rail reinstatement, and in 1971 the Countryside Commission for Scotland published a full report of securing the recently closed lines in Scotland as long distance paths, as did the architect of the National Parks Richard Hutchings, in his role as Derbyshire County Solicitor, by creating the High Peak and Tissington Trails

    With the relatively close proximity of Hawes and Garsdale, I’m also tempted to look at whether the 4 hour lay-over for the Reliance-operated Dalesbus (to accommodate drivers hours issues) might allow for a couple of runs to Garsdale from Hawes for those who might want to walk the route?

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