Tourism boost as hikers roll into town

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Skipton is anticipating a huge tourism boost this weekend as hundreds of hikers flock to the Dales market town for Oxfam’s Trailtrekker challenge.

More than 220 teams of four have entered this year’s event, and they will be supported by scores of relatives, friends and charity volunteers.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants are all expected to benefit as the weary fundraisers sate the appetite and quench the thirst they will have worked up by the end of the 100km trek.

And many are expected to enjoy a well-earned rest in the town’s hotels and bed and breakfasts, with participants coming from across the country and beyond for the mammoth challenge, which sets off from the town at 7am on Saturday.

Town centre manager Brett Butler said: “Trailtrekker brings in a huge amount of people to the area who will stay.

“Bed and breakfasts and hotels are generally full and it’s not just that. Throughout the period of the walk, the families and friends will go and cheer the walkers on and then they’ll go into town and have something to eat or have a drink in a cafe.”

International teams are flying in from as far as Australia, Belgium and Germany for the event, who are sure to be charmed by the quintessentially English appeal of the historic market town.

Mr Butler said: “It is idyllic. It is one of those places where we have still preserved all the high street and its heritage.

“We have probably one of the best-preserved castles in Skipton castle and we’ve got the canal for boat trips.

“I think that does bring in a lot of people from all over the country and internationally.”

The sunny weather forecast for this weekend will show off the town in its full splendour and it is hoped many of the new visitors the event brings to the area will return.

Mr Butler said: “Trailtrekker is a huge event, Oxfam do really well with it. They have brought it to what is, I believe, the most beautiful part of the country, full stop, and the best town.

“When people come here they do want to come back, whether that’s to go walking, to go shopping in our independent shops, to go on canal trips or generally just to eat and drink in some of our cracking restaurants - we have got it all.”

Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith echoed the sentiment, adding that it would kick off an exciting time ahead of the Jubilee weekend and Olympic torch relay.

He said: “I am sure everyone taking part in the Trailtrekker event will be spurred on by the stunning scenery of Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales. The money raised for Oxfam will make a real difference to people’s lives around the world and I want to thank everyone involved.

“The influx of those taking part, plus their support teams, friends and family, will be a boost to the economy of Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales with many people shopping, staying and spending in the area.

“We already have some of the most vibrant high streets of anywhere in the country and events such as Trailtrekker, as with the Walk For All last summer, are a real bonus for our hard-working businesses.

“With the Jubilee weekend and the Olympic torch relay in the next month, this promises to be an exciting and busy time for Skipton.”