A GROUNDBREAKING project which will see the remote Lake District valley which inspired the Postman Pat children’s TV series leap into a brave new world of high-tech communications is now close to completion.

Within the next few weeks, 84 properties in the Longsleddale area will be connected to the fibre broadband network thanks to community project Broadband For The Mint and Sprint, which is part of the larger strategy Broadband For The Rural North, or B4RN.

And as the project rolls out, eight other parishes will also shortly be connected to the network in a move which will be not only be invaluable for existing residents but will also ensure the area is more attractive to potential new residents.

“We’ve got 300 metres of mole ploughing and one drill under the river to go, then the Longsleddale part of the project will have been completed,” said Dan Robinson, voluntary project manager of Broadband For The Mint and Sprint.

“All the residents in the area who expressed interest in getting connected have been or are about to be supplied with fibre right to their properties, which means they are on the brink of getting 1,000Mbps broadband, many times faster than most towns and cities in the country currently receive.”

The project’s trenching professionals, Mealbank-based father and son Tony and Liam Swidenbank and Tony’s brother-in-law, Graham Knowles, have been working in all weathers since last September to lay more than 20 kilometres of ducting.

The delicate fibre optic cables will then be blown through the cables, while residents have also been busy setting up connections for their own properties.

“This has been a great example of a community working together with the backing of a team of top professionals to bring all the benefits of really fast broadband to an area that has been poorly served in the past by the mainstream utility companies,” said Mr Robinson.

Once the Longsleddale section of the project is completed, the focus of the work will shift to Selside School, which is expected to be live with fibre broadband by the end of February.

And by early 2020, the Mint and Sprint project, which is also partly funded by significant investment from the residents themselves, will have brought 1,000Mbps broadband to just over 700 properties and businesses in the parishes of Whitwell and Selside, Fawcett Forest, Longsleddale, Whinfell, Docker, Grayrigg, Lambrigg and Skelsmergh & Scalthwaiterigg.