8:00am Saturday 21st September 2013
By Claire Lomax
Journalist and media celebrity Janet Street-Porter put her best foot forward in support of a campaign to build a bridge at Burley-in-Wharfedale.
The keen rambler and president of the Burley Bridge Association walked with supporters to the proposed suspension footbridge site on Saturday and called for messages of support across the river to campaigners on the other side.
The bridge is intended to provide year-round access between Burley and Askwith at a point where there are stepping stones and a weir, linking existing rights of way and opening up a network of countryside paths.
The 66-year-old said the existing stepping stones could be dangerous. “It’s OK if you’re agile but when the water rises, it most definitely is not safe,” she said. “There are lots of examples of people being swept away by rivers.”
Janet said there was a need for circular walks in the area and it was ludicrous the communities of Askwith and Burley were not linked by a footpath.
The recent Celebrity Masterchef finalist added: “I feel so strongly about it. I’m annoyed the bridge hasn’t been built yet. Walking is my passion – it costs nothing, gets you fit, you meet great people and it’s calming, which in my case is very important!”
She added: “This is the closest we’ve been to getting this much needed bridge built. Despite the obvious benefits to local people and to walkers from further afield, the campaign has had to overcome many obstacles.
“I know this bridge will be built, but let’s hope it’s going to be sooner rather than later.” The bridge will cost around £300,000 to build, helped by National Lottery funding, and is intended to link existing rights of way and open up a network of countryside paths within Nidderdale’s Area of Outstanding Beauty.
A group of 70 people joined Janet to support the 17-year-long campaign for a bridge.
Among them was Jane Driscoll, of Burley, who said: “It would be great to have access to Otley, Ilkley and the rest of the Dales.
“I’m a non-driver and always looking for walks that don’t need a car.”
BBA committee member David Asher said: “We’ve had a brilliant turnout – Janet has given us an excellent boost to the campaign.”
For more information, visit burleybridge.com.
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