The 9th Earl of Lonsdale, Will Lowther, has opened a new public right of way in Tebay in the Westmorland Dales part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The creation of the 780-metre footpath on the Lonsdale estate means that local people will no longer have to walk on the busy A685 road.
The path also better connects the Westmorland Dales with the Lake District National Park. The two National Parks are only a hundred metres apart at Tebay, separated by the M6 motorway, a railway mainline and the River Lune.
Rangers, apprentices and volunteers have spent the past four months constructing the footpath, in a project funded by National Lottery players through the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership.
More than 400 tonnes of aggregate was brought from nearby Shap quarry to create a sound surface accessible for all.
Will Lowther, from the village of Little Strickland, said it was his first official opening since becoming the Earl of Lonsdale in 2021.
He said: “My interest was in making sure the public could enjoy a nice walk. I think the rangers have done a superb job. The path is safe to walk on and it’s going to be kept well maintained and tidy.”
The Chair of Tebay Parish Council, Adrian Todd, said: “The new path means we’ve got a circular route from the village of Tebay, by Roundthwaite on the other side of the M6 and back over the iron bridge – around three miles. It takes people off the main road which is very dangerous. It’s a marvellous project. We’ve been trying to do this for 25 years believe it or not. The parish of Tebay is very happy that it’s been done. It’ll be a great thing for everybody.”
Member Champion for Recreation Management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Lizzie Bushby, said: “The creation of the new footpath at Tebay is a great example of a partnership scheme. The landowner, commoners, and the parish council – all have contributed.
“Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has come through the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, and the organising and leg work has been done by our western ranger team with help from volunteers and apprentices. The team has worked through sometimes atrocious weather for four months to complete the project. The challenge was carving out a path from the steep fellside; we couldn’t use big machinery, rather tracked powered wheelbarrows, with most of the 1200 loads led by the apprentices.”
David Evans, scheme manager the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, added: “This was a fantastic project for the Countryside Worker apprentices to finish their course on, as they’ve been based at Tebay. And it sums up what the Landscape Partnership scheme has been all about: putting National Lottery money to good use and developing an amenity that will be really well appreciated.”
The Earl of Lonsdale opened the path on 28 February 2023.