Community pulls together after floods

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Farmers, landowners and police officers in the Yorkshire Dales have teamed up to carry out urgent repairs to vast stretches of footpaths and drystone walls which were badly damaged by floods.

Heavy rain and melting snow saw rivers burst their banks in several areas of Swaledale in December, causing widespread damage to sections of the 1,305 mile-plus network of public rights of way in the national park.

With help from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), which is responsible for the maintenance of the paths, farmers and landowners have now started restoration work in time for the summer season.

Ian Broadwith, the YDNPA’s access ranger for Swaledale, said: “There is a very short window of opportunity to carry out this work as these riverside fields are hay meadows and will be closed off to us from early May until the crop is harvested, so we must press on with the repairs at every chance.”

Leyburn police officers and members of the Swaledale Outdoor Club have also been working hand in hand to repair drystone walls near Low Row in Swaledale.

Several officers were given a crash course in drystone walling by the authority’s Dales volunteers after offering to help out with the repairs and have spent three days rebuilding walls between two farms in time for lambing.

Michael Briggs, the YDNPA’s area ranger for Swaledale, said: “Sgt Grainger of Leyburn Police contacted me after seeing the state of some of the walls following the floods. He was really keen to help local farmers repair the walls which are so important to the landscape he enjoys while working in the Dales. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse so we co-ordinated them with our volunteers and landowners to get the walls back up.”

Meanwhile, a section of the famous Coast to Coast route through Swaledale will soon reopen after it was temporarily closed for repairs to a flood-damaged section of path.