The only way to get between Harrogate and Ripley was via the A61, a very busy, undulating and dangerous main road. To get out of Harrogate town centre in any direction, and in particular to access the Yorkshire Dales, you either had to be a very experienced cyclist or use a car. A group of local people saw the potential of cycling and walking along the former disused railway line and together with Sustrans had been campaigning for over 15 years to get the route established.
“ We have been campaigning for this route for over 10 years and now for the first time there is a safe route away from traffic between Harrogate and Ripley. Locally, there has been a significant increase in cycling, helped by steady improvements in the cycle network. This project is the vital next step to give cycling in the area mass appeal, and encourage those who own bicycles but rarely use them, to dust them off and enjoy riding them, with the undoubted health and climate benefits that brings. ”
Sustrans, in partnership with local people and the local authority, developed a 3.7 km path that follows the route of a former railway line, between Bilton, on northern edge of Harrogate, and Ripley. As well as developing the traffic-free path, work included bringing back into use the Grade 2 listed, seven-arch Nidd Gorge Viaduct and providing a signalised crossing of the A61 near Ripley. The Greenway also links into the existing cycle network to Knaresborough, Starbeck and Harrogate giving thousands of people better access to the National Cycle Network.
The route offers a safe, pleasant alternative to the A61 for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users. It is already proving popular for everyday journeys between Ripley and Harrogate, the largest urban centre in North Yorkshire. The Greenway has also benefitted sustainable tourism in the area by offering access to the Yorkshire Dales, the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Ripley Castle.
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