Riders are being invited to join a guided hack on Exmoor this Friday ( 27 July) to promote the re-opening of the national park.

There will also be cyclists and walkers at the event, which begins at Dunkery Gates by the highest hill on Exmoor. It is estimated that it will take between two and three hours to reach the village of Wheddon Cross where tea and cakes will be available.

Chairman of the Exmoor Holiday Group, Brian Martin, says:”We’ve been very hard hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis.

Between March and May, taking in the tourist industry here have been down by 75%. A number of paths have already opened, but this event which marks the re-opening of 97% of the park, will hopefully bring the tourists back.”

“We have the best riding in England here, with 600 miles of bridleways and paths and some of the best scenery. We’re hoping things will pick up from now.”

Brian, who has a number of holiday cottages and stabling for visitors, says he now has four equine visitors booked in this week – the first in a long time.

However, the organisers say they are not complacent about the risk of spreading FMD.

Martin Evans, spokesman for Exmoor National Park, explained: “Our advice from the ministry and other sources is that the risk of a walker, cyclist or rider spreading the diseases is infinitesimal.

“But if anyone is from an infected area we advise them to go through the normal disinfecting procedures.”

The ride starts at 1.45pm on Friday. There will also be an evening of entertainment at Dulverton.

For more information contact Martin Evans (tel: 01398 322285).