In wet and blustery conditions, Rory declared himself “honoured and delighted” to officially open on Saturday the North Pennines AONB’s refurbished 18th-century Packhorse Trails, in an extensive network that will run across Hartside onto Alston Moor, and beyond into Teesdale and Weardale.

Rory joined members of the North Pennines AONB, including Director Chris Woodley-Stewart, and representatives from local authorities and parish councils, the Local Access Forum, Cumbria Tourism, and local farmers and residents at the opening of the rebuilt Rickergill packhorse bridge on the Hartside trail, once used to transport lead and other goods from north Cumbria to far-off towns.

Rory said:  “It’s an enormous pleasure to be supporting the North Pennines AONB today, and the historic re-opening of the Rickergill pack-horse bridge at Hartside. This sort of infrastructure connects not only our landscape and our people in a physical way, but of course speaks also of the incredible heritage of our landscape and its guardians: we its residents and keepers, who walk and work the land and continue to do so. This itself is part of the North Pennines AONB’s extraordinary re-opening of various Packhorse Trails in and around the beautiful Alston Moor area, as well as in Northumberland and towards the Derwent Valley. It is a huge honour for me, having walked this trail myself in recent years, to be here today at the invitation of North Pennines AOB and my thanks also go to Cumbria County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cumbria Tourism’s ‘Adventure Capital’ fund for their generous contributions, which have been integral to completing this very important project.”

The routes have been developed as part of the AONB’s Landscape Partnership Programme, in association with the Heritage Lottery Fund, making the trails accessible to walkers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

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