Footpath near Blea MoorPolice and national park rangers are clamping down on motorcyclists and drivers illegally using Yorkshire Dales bridleways and footpaths.

Footpaths such as this one (right) near Blea Moor, are used illegally by off-roaders

And they are urging walkers and cyclists to ‘grass up’ anyone they see abusing rights of way. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) will continue its campaign to stop the unlawful use of its trails, which cause damage to the environment and annoyance to other users of the paths.

Access Project Officer Mark Allum said: “These joint patrols have already proved successful this winter with two motorcyclists being taken to court, and one issued with a formal caution and section 59 warning – meaning that a repeat offence will result in the vehicle being seized. 

“In the Hawes area a motorcyclist was found to have no insurance and the vehicle was seized, and four others were issued with fixed penalty fines for vehicle defects.”

Staff and volunteers have also been trained by North Yorkshire Police in evidence gathering and photographs and statements have enabled police to act when infringements are reported. Three alleged offences are currently under investigation.

Mark said: “We will be continuing these checks throughout the Christmas and New Year period in different areas of the National Park.”

Members of the public can hand in reports of illegal use of bridleways and footpaths to local police stations in Grassington, Settle, Ingleton and Leyburn.

Meanwhile, the Dales authority is working on improving the latest 4km stretch of the Pennine Bridleway which passes through its area.

The section at Newby Head, between Dentdale and Widdale is the latest part of the trail to be worked on.  The route will eventually run from the High Peak Trail in Derbyshire for 560km (350 miles) to Byrness, Northumberland. The YDNPA has so far improved 15km of the trail this year. It hopes to open the route by 2009. Workmen are currently carrying out work on Thwaite Lane and Long Lane, near Clapham.

The YNDPA’s Pennine Bridleway project officer Gareth Evans said: “We aim to have approximately 55kms of the 81kms that run through the National Park completed by April.”

All routes remain open during the work. Details of the Pennine Bridleway can be seen on its website