Work starts on new Swale Trail

Swale Trail in the making - loading stone into dumpers at Low Lane.

Work has begun on the Swale Trail – a new, easy-going mountain bike trail that will run along the length of Swaledale, between Reeth and Keld.

In the past two weeks, 400 tonnes of limestone aggregate have been brought from nearby Leyburn quarry and laid along Low Lane, near Low Row, by Conservefor Ltd.

The Settle-based company’s director, Gareth Evans, has led a crew of six, re-dressing the surface of the 2.5km-long lane to make it more even and installing better drainage.

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Passers-by will have seen Cemex UK lorries from Leyburn arriving with the aggregate, which has been put into place using four dumpers and three diggers.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Area Ranger, Michael Briggs, is managing the Swale Trail project.

He said: “It’s very exciting to see work start on this long-anticipated trail.  The stone Cemex has supplied – and that Conservefor has laid – will make for a really hardwearing surface.

“We are working on the easiest bit first.   Low Lane is an unclassified, historic road, which had become uneven and overgrown.  Other sections of the trail will be more complicated, but planning is well underway.”

Gareth Evans, from Conservefor Ltd, said: “This is a fantastic project which will really improve the off road family cycle network in Swaledale. Once completed, it’s going to be a little bit special.

“Our experienced team of trail builders is really pleased to be working with the National Park ranger service to create this exciting route.”

The Swale Trail, which it’s hoped will be completed by next Easter, will be a unique facility in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

It is a valley bottom route 20km (12 miles) in length, of which 75% will be on traffic free tracks.

Access rights for the trail already exist, ahead of this work, as it brings together sections of bridleway and unclassified roads such as Low Lane.

It will be a multi-user trail, meaning that it can be used by all, including walkers and horse riders. It will be promoted to people with mobility difficulties and families with buggies.

People will be able to complete as much or as little as they want of the Swale Trail, as it divides into four sections with various options to visit villages, pubs, cafes, accommodation and other tourism businesses along its length.

The project will cost £221,000. Funding has so far come from The Yorkshire Dales LEADER programme (£98,000); Richmondshire District Council’s Economic Growth Fund (£50,000); the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (£60,000); and the Pennine Trails National Trails Partnership (£13,000).

Michael Briggs added: “The Swale Trail will complement existing mountain biking trails in Swaledale and surrounding Dales.  It will hopefully introduce families, who might be a bit nervous about taking on the more strenuous routes, to the joys of mountain biking.”