A survey suggests there is strong public support for developing a multi-user route along a scenic six-mile stretch of former railway in Upper Wensleydale.
Nearly four out of five members of the public have backed a proposal for a new family-friendly, wheelchair-accessible route between the town of Hawes and Garsdale Station on the Settle-Carlisle mainline.
A total of 2,261 individual responses were received, with a minority of respondents – 19% – against the proposal on the grounds that they would prefer the former trackbed to be protected from any development.
The online survey was carried out by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, after its Members approved the principle of creating a Hawes-Garsdale multi-user route at its March quarterly meeting and asked for views from the public.
The full results will be presented at the next Authority meeting, on Tuesday 28 June, when Members will decide whether to formally back the proposal. Meeting papers will be published next week here.
Currently there is no public access along the former branch line between Hawes and Garsdale. The railway closed more than sixty years ago.
The Chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Neil Heseltine said: “This is one of the most engaged surveys the Authority has undertaken in recent years, and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to take part.
“Support from local people for a Hawes-Garsdale bridleway is particularly strong. Overall, 77% of respondents supported the proposal, but among those who described themselves as living and/or working or owning a business in the National Park, support rose to 82%. That is owing to a desire to create a safe place for children to cycle or go horse riding away from the main road, a need for a direct, car-and-motorcycle-free route between Hawes and Garsdale Station, and a need to support economic development, which the route would likely stimulate.
“The former railway is a monument to Victorian engineering, but at the moment it is a largely wasted – and deteriorating – asset. If Members decide later this month to confirm their support for a Hawes-Garsdale multi-user route, then the Authority would approach potential project partners to discuss a way ahead“.
A feasibility study into the creation of a Hawes-Garsdale multi-user route, commissioned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Richmondshire District Council, is here.