The new bridleway. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

The new bridleway. Photo: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Cyclists and walkers travelling between two Yorkshire Dales villages no longer have to take their lives in their hands on a busy main road.

A new bridleway has opened linking Clapham and Austwick, avoiding a section of the A65 that has seen a number of accidents in the past.

The A65 is the main route between Skipton in North Yorkshire and the Lake District and previously was the only way to link two quiet lanes used as a cycle route between the two settlements.

Now, a 400m bridleway has been created alongside the A65, so walkers, cyclists and horseriders no longer have to mix with the traffic.

The new bridleway, a partnership project between the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Dales Integrated Transport Alliance and North Yorkshire County Council, was created following requests from the villages’ parish councils for an alternative link that avoided people coming into contact with the heavy traffic.

It is also an aid to long distance cyclists travelling on the Way of the Roses Coast to Coast cycle route, avoiding the tunnels in Clapham and the A65.

The national park authority played a key part in the project through its expertise in bridleway construction project.

The route is expected to boost tourism and support local economies by attracting greater numbers of visitors to the area.

Steve Hastie, the YDNPA’s area ranger for Ribblesdale, said: “Over the years there has been a number of accidents on this section of the A65 – some involving cyclists using the main road as a link between the two sections of the B6480.

“The bridleway was originally requested by the two communities as a safe solution.

“It has been a big project in many ways and has required a lot of work, and we would like to thank the landowners and tenants for all their help and support.

“Already the initial signs are that it will be very well used by both visitors and locals.”

A Clapham Parish Council spokesman said: “During these times of austerity, it is good to see that a very worthwhile project thought up by local people can still find support and funding from those in authority.

“This short stretch of road between our two villages has long been the cause of safety concerns to pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.

“We would also like to say a very sincere thank you to the landowners without whose support this bridleway could not be been built.”

Austwick Parish Council chair Ian Smith said: “Austwick parish councillors are delighted that the new bridleway has finally arrived.

“Until now, walkers, horse riders and cyclists have had to take an extensive detour to travel safely between the two villages, the only alternative being to use a dangerous, winding section of the A65 itself.

“The new bridleway adds to the attractions of our most beautiful parts of the Yorkshire Dales. It will provide a safer and smoother connection between our village and neighbouring Clapham and also an easier alternative route for people using the Way of the Roses cycle route.

“We are pleased that North Yorkshire County Council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have finally been able to bring this long-awaited bridleway to fruition.”

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