Popular with hikers, cyclists, horse riders and dog walkers the Trans Pennine Trail is something we now take for granted; but what is it and how did it come about?
Starting at Hornsea on the North Sea Coast it stretches 215 miles to Southport in the west. There are additional links to York, Leeds and Chesterfield with a spur to Kirkburton resulting in a total length of 370 miles to explore – far more than some of us would want to walk!
Work on the Trail started in 1999 with the help of a £5 million grant from the Millennium Commission. Officially opened in 2001 and finally completed in 2004 at a total cost of £60 million. Remarkably for a route which crosses the Pennine Chain there are few if any steep gradients making it suitable even for wheelchair uses and walkers with pushchairs. For much of the distance it makes use of canal tow-paths and disused railway lines, the latter will be familiar to people in the Penistone Area where it follows much of the old Woodhead route and goes through a disused tunnel at Thurgoland. Over 70% of the Trail is traffic free and, unlike many other long distance walking routes in the UK which are in attractive albeit remote places, it is easily accessible from urban centres. With many sections being off-road it provides a relatively stress free environment for both cyclists and horse riders. The latter are catered for by there being some segregated sections where horses can canter as well as dedicated car-parks for horse boxes and trailers.
For those not familiar with the Trail there are a range of maps in 1:50,000 scale and each shows the route for walkers, horse-riders and cyclists together with information about places of interest, accommodation and other attractions in close proximity to the route. For full details visit:- www.transpenninetrail.org.uk
In total the Trail runs through the areas of twenty-seven local authorities all of which are responsible for the maintenance of their sections. However, much of the work is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers and, without their willingness to give up their own free time, the Trail would not be the priceless asset it is today.
With an increasingly popular attraction like the Trail it is not surprising that there should on occasion be conflicts between the interests of different user groups but with patience and consideration for others there is no reason why it should not continue to be enjoyed by everyone.
First published in the Barnsley Chronicle - Penistone Living - August 2018