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Riders in the North York Moors National Park (NYMNP) have had a vital bridleway link restored following the opening of a new bridge last week (20 May).

The bridge over the Murk Esk, a tributary of the river Esk, is the final link in a three-year project to re-establish missing riding routes in the Esk Valley.

The bridge restores an historic bridleway connection between the hamlets of Esk Valley and Green End.

The new bridge, designed by engineer Geoff Freedman, sits on the abutments of the former tramway bridge built in the 1830s.

The mine closed in the 1930s and the bridge was lost following the severe floods that diverted the course of the Murk Esk.

Lady Kirk, a founder and trustee of the Byways and Bridleway Trust, and fellow riders Bill Tait and Susan Bell were among the first to cross the new bridge.

bridge replacing a missing bridleway on North York Moors National Park“Today we have reached the climax of an 80-year-long saga,” said Lady Kirk at the opening.

“Sometime in the 1930s, when I was a little schoolgirl learning to ride, there was a bridge here, carrying the tramway from quarries up the other side. Getting this new bridge in place was not a simple operation and many hands were involved.”

She said the new bridge is “the best missing link” and gives riders “a beautiful ride away from road traffic”.

“The much-improved route offers fantastic views of the Esk Valley, open fields and meandering Murk Esk,” said Naomi Green, northern area ranger at the NYMNP.

bridge replacing a missing bridleway on North York Moors National ParkFunding from the Department for Transport’s local sustainable transport fund (LSTF) has enabled the Missing Links project to create and improve six bridleways in the Esk Valley.

“Reinstating this bridleway has been on our wish-list for years but has finally been made possible thanks to the funding from the LSTF,” added Naomi Green.

“Missing Links has been an incredibly rewarding project to work on, seeing routes that have been missing on the ground for many years for a variety of reasons come back in to use.”