A new section of a challenge route has been opened, with the promise of keeping walkers’ feet drier.
The footpath avoids Black Dubb Moss on the Yorkshire Three Peaks circuit, a notorious bog that was suffering from severe erosion.
The new path passes close to Hunt Pot, a 60m-deep chasm engulfing one of Pen-y-ghent’s becks and also lies within about 200m of Hull Pot a 90m-long limestone gash in the hillside, claimed to be the biggest natural hole in the country.
Thousands of walkers tackle the 39km (24-mile) Three Peaks route each year, ascending Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
The section between Pen-y-ghent and Ribblehead has long had a reputation as being the boggiest leg.
The new route, which takes walkers further along the Pennine Way before turning off and heading over Whitber Hill and Sell Gill Hill, has already been given the thumbs up by users.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Three Peaks area ranger Steve Hastie, who is also the Three Peaks Project manager, said: “The feedback we have had so far about the new route is very positive.
“It is far easier to navigate – a lot drier – and it gives people a fantastic view of Ingleborough, Whernside and Far Moor Bridge. On top of that, it runs past Hull Pot and Hunt Pot, which are well worth a short detour to see.
“Another plus is that there won’t be any time wasted in busy periods having to wait at stiles and gates because, unlike the old path, there aren’t any.”
Last year, members of the public and readers of Trail and Country Walking magazines were asked to select 10 winners from 66 international nominations to share a pot of cash being offered by the European Outdoor Conservation Association, a group of businesses in the European outdoor industry that raises funds to put directly into conservation projects worldwide.
And the Whitber bid, which was submitted by local charity the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust after discussions with the National Park Authority, proved to be a winner, netting a €30,000 grant.
National Park Rangers and Dales Volunteers used 650 tonnes of materials to link up two existing stone tracks that are both part of the Pennine Way to create the alternative route, which includes three sections of stepped stone flags and a small footbridge across Sell Gill Beck.
The Authority’s conservation experts hope that, by diverting walkers away from Black Dubb Moss, it will give the sensitive peatland habitats and the damaged vegetation time to recover.
Don Gamble, the YDMT’s projects development officer, said: “It is marvellous that the work has been completed and that the new, sustainable route is now being used and enjoyed. Thanks once again to everyone who voted for this project and helped YDMT secure the vital funding boost that has made it possible.”
The creation of the alternative route is part of the Three Peaks Project, which was launched by the national park authority in 2009.
The project aims to encourage charities, organisations and individuals to help in the maintenance and conservation of the network of paths crossing a fragile area of land that has to cope with 250,000 visitors each year.