FORESTRY chiefs have permanently closed a North Yorkshire road that regularly tops lists of the best drives in the country, to restore tranquillity to the picturesque valley.
The Forestry Commission has announced it has closed a three-mile stretch of woodland road through Newtondale Forest, near Pickering, which is one of England’s most spectacular valleys. Access has been retained for residents and those using holiday homes in the remote North York Moors beauty spot, but general traffic will no longer be able to use Newtondale Forest Drive to make the journey between the villages of Levisham and Stape.
The stretch of road was closed at the beginning of the month.
Paul Cody, district forester with the Forestry Commission, said: “We have consulted with local people and organisations and generally had a very positive reaction.
“Newtondale is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its geology and one of the north’s most important woods for wildlife.
“Over recent years we have managed it as a wilderness area and removing through traffic will further help restore the valley’s magical character.
“Landslips have caused a great deal of damage to the road surface, which in sections is difficult to navigate.
“Repair costs have become prohibitive, especially considering the area’s environmentally sensitive character.
“The North York Moors steam railway runs through the valley bottom so there is good access for walkers wanting to get into the heart of the area.
“Ramblers and riders will also be able to enjoy the peace and quiet without the roar of passing motor traffic.”
Newtondale Forest was created when meltwater from an ice age glacier gouged a deep gorge through the hills.
During a television series of Britain’s best drives screened earlier this year, actor Richard Wilson drove through the valley in a classic Morris Minor Traveller, from Scarborough to Whitby via the North York Moors.