Future of disused Dales railway line to be discussed

A view west along the route of the old railway from the former Hawes station. Photo: YDNPA.

The future of a six-mile stretch of disused railway in upper Wensleydale is to be discussed by members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

A report on a possible Hawes-Garsdale Multi-User Route will recommend members support the principle of creating a bridleway – which would be suitable for horse riders, cyclists, walkers and those with limited mobility – along the scenic former railway line.

The report, to be made public on Monday in advance of a national park authority meeting on Tuesday, March 29, also recommends carrying out a survey to determine the level of public support for the proposal.

The railway closed in 1959 and there is currently no public access along it between Hawes and Garsdale.

The current Yorkshire Dales National Park Local Plan supports the reinstatement of a railway along the route, as well as a parallel recreational path.

However, a feasibility study carried out on behalf of the park authority and Richmondshire District Council has concluded there is room only for a railway or multi-user route, not both.

The park authority’s member champion for recreation management Nick Cotton said: “Through the National Park Management Plan we have a shared commitment with local councils and other local groups to create another family-friendly cycling route in the national park.

“This has a number of advantages, but the main one for me is to allow children and their families to get off a busy road and cycle in a safe and secure environment.

“The former branch line between Garsdale Station and Hawes Station, which is now the Dales Countryside Museum, has been one of the suggestions where such a route might be developed.

“The next steps are for the authority to discuss the matter and, if it is supportive of progressing it, to seek the views of the public.”


  1. Sounds a great initiative.Its a pity there isn’t room for both a railway and a multi use path but opening up the route to public access would be excellent.

    • This is a great idea to open up, this part should be used for one and all to enjoy and will be very popular. I feel many people will support this it needs to be used and enjoyed.

  2. Surely if the old railway is repurposed as a cycle/walking/bridleway it will kill
    Off for good any chance of the railway reopening which would open up massive education employment recreation and tourism opportunities for the area? Prior to Covid the old railway was favourite to win funding from the Gov to be reopened what happened there??

  3. I have walked this route on numerous occasions and can only concur that it is one of the most scenic walks I have undertaken.
    It would cost millions (and I mean millions!!) to reinstate the railway, however, making it into a bridleway could and should be possible.
    Winning the ‘Hearts and Minds’ of the farmers’ who own the land adjacent to the track would, I believe, be your greatest battle. I’m sure they all have children or grandchildren and the benefits to them would also be incalculable.

  4. If this goes ahead, the Wensleydale Railway will never reconnect with the main line at Garsdale. A small short term gain means a large permanent loss. A bad idea – instead, how about getting a consortium to start to reinstate the line from Garsdale to Hawes and bring in visitors from Lancashire, Cumbria, Manchester, Merseyside and West Yorkshire by train not car? Let’s look at long term and environmentally sustainable strategies.

    • In the meantime if you did want to travel by train to Hawes. The little white bus meets trains at Garsdale everyday to bring you into Hawes and throughout the dales. About a 15 minute journey.

  5. Why not turn the whole line into a multi-recreational route, from Leeming Bar to Garsdale? All that’s running on it is empty railbuses. Hardly call it a heritage line.

    • What a petulant ignorant comment. the Wensleydale Railway has been hit harder than many other heritage railways over the covid period that are really quite complex.

  6. This was originally a double track route so you can easily have a walking path/cycle way AND a single track railway in the space available. Other old restored railways do this and it works fine.

    • This route was only single track. The only double track was at Hawes station which was a passing loop.

  7. As someone who would like to see the railway reinstated I would be in favour of the footpath idea. The railway prospect is too distant and uncertain the footpath would be a good way of using the trackbed now for the benefit of people. It should be done in a way to allow future reinstatement should the railway ever become a prospect. As the railway was single track an alternative route would have to be looked at for the footpath should the railway ever be rebuilt but in the meantime….

    It is hard to see the prospect of the Wensleydale being rebuilt when the Penrith Keswick has yet again failed to achieve support in local government.

  8. This needs to be turned back in to a railway line now. There are more than enough places for walkers, cyclists and horse riders to do their thing without hijacking another disused railway that should never have closed. Enough of this trendy nonsense; STOP THESE PROPOSALS IMMEDIATELY. GET IT BACK TO BEING THE RAILWAY THAT IT SHOULD BE.

  9. It would be great to see this section opened up to walkers, cyclists and horseriding but why not make it a Restricted Bridleway? It’s very unlikely that someone will ever raise the millions of pounds required to reinstate the railway line but, if they did, the public would at least have been able to use the track bed for quite a few years if not decades.

  10. The whole route should be updated to multiuse more routes for cycles, could mean less relying on cars

  11. The YDNP should be focussed on reducing the number of cars entering the national park. This is where the Upper Wensleydale Railway’s proposal to reconnect Hawes to the mainline at Garsdale is win win win. It will gain approval, especially with the support of the YDNP.
    Turning the trackbed into a recreational path will mean the track bed is lost for ever and all those cars will keep coming and coming…just so they can walk along the line or bring their bikes on the roof of their car so they can cycle it.
    We welcome tourists, they are the lifeblood of the Dales, but encouraging visitors to come on public transport should be a priority…not encouraging them to drive so they can have a walk along an old railway line.

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