A NEW safe off-road pathway has been officially opened along the shore of Esthwaite Water.

The Claife Community Bridleway has been six years in the making and covers half of the two-mile route between Near Sawrey and Hawkshead. It was called for by residents on safety grounds and can now be used by walkers and cyclists to go off road along the lake for the first time,.

Claife Parish Council celebrated Friday's opening of the path and has appealed to landowners who refused to let it cross their land, to think again, so that it can be completed.

The path cost £75,000 to create and the works have been paid for by the National Trust, Lake District National Park Authority, South Lakeland District Council and Claife Parish Council. It was flagged as a priority in the Claife Community Led Plan (CLP) published five years ago.

It runs through land owned by the National Trust and Claife Parish Council. But it has to return to the road in some places because private landowners have refused to let it cross their land.

“Seventy per cent of residents who answered the CLP questionnaire, said a path to Hawkshead was a priority for safety reasons," said Claife parish councillor Anne Brodie. "We hope that now they can see how the path benefits everyone, reluctant landowners will change their minds and let us finish the job.

“The fenced path separates walkers from the traffic and from farmland. It makes the road along Esthwaite Water safer for everyone – motorists included. And it opens up some lovely views of Esthwaite Water.”

LDNPA area ranger Sara Spicer said: “We are delighted to see this new bridlepath open for use. It has been a fantastic project working with Claife Parish Council and the National Trust to help them deliver a new safe off road route. It will also provide a useful link to the new bridleway between Hawkshead and Wray that we developed a few years ago.”