Access to the popular walk up to Willance’s Leap to the west of Richmond has been improved thanks to an initiative by the Rotary Club of Richmond.
The path leads over Whitcliffe Scar to the scene of a famous historical event which has long been part of Richmond’s folklore.
In 1606, Robert Willance, a wealthy draper, was out hunting on horseback.
Returning home, he suddenly became enveloped in thick swirling mist. His young nervous horse panicked and bolted straight over the edge of the Whitcliffe escarpment.
Willance’s horse died in the fall but miraculously thanks to the horse and although seriously injured in the fall with a broken leg, Robert Willance survived to become Alderman of Richmond, equivalent of the Town Mayor.
A series of stones now marks the spot, which is visited regularly by walkers, both local and visitors to Richmond.
For many years the footpath up to Willance’s Leap had a series of wooden stiles in various states of repair.
Three of these have been replaced with long lasting galvanised kissing gates, making access much easier.
This initiative by Richmond Rotary Club has been helped by grants from the Grocers’ Mercers’ and Haberdashers’, Richmondshire District Council Community Investment Fund, and assistance from North Yorkshire Council. The Council, who are responsible for Rights of Way, arranged the installation of the gates at the end of June 2023.
Former Richmond Rotary President Jos Huddleston said: “I am delighted that through the leadership of our Rotarian Colin Grant and the cooperation of the landowners we have eventually been able to improve part of this footpath.
“Just two old stiles remain and in time we hope these can also be changed with long lasting stock proof gates, which are also much easier for walkers to navigate.
“In the meantime, Richmond Rotary Club has made Willance’s Leap even more accessible and represents yet another Rotary contribution to our local community.”