The government approves plans to extend the Pennine Bridleway by more than 140 miles

A bridleway, which is under construction along the Pennines, is to be extended, making it the longest national trail for horse riders in the country.

When completed, it will run from Derbyshire to Northumberland, allowing riders to travel around 350 miles with no stiles or steps, just gates and special road crossings. Bridges will be built across rivers and new surfaces put down where necessary.

The decision by the Minister of State for Rural Affairs, Alun Michael, to extend the Pennine Bridleway National Trail by 141 miles has been welcomed by the Countryside Agency.

Chairman, Ewen Cameron, said: “This is excellent news for horse riders and off-road cyclists who are currently under-provided with rights of way.

“Both experienced and less experienced users will be able to choose distances to suit their abilities.”

Sue Rogers, regional access and bridleways officer for the BHS in the north, said:

“I’m thrilled about the decision. Apart from giving local riders more routes on a daily and weekly basis, it will also be good for visitors and will help the rural economy.

“The FMD disaster made government recognise the relationship between access to the countryside and the economic health of remote rural areas.

“I believe thereis an increasing amount of recognition that riders are part of the public enjoying the countryside and therefore they need routes.”

The extension will take the route through Cumbria to Byrness in Northumberland.

The Countryside Agency is hoping that a section of the bridleway will open in May this year and that the first phase will be completed by 2004.

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