- 1986 - Lady Mary Towneley rode 250 miles from Corbridge, Northumberland to Ashbourne, Derbyshire to investigate the idea of a Pennine Bridleway
- 1987 - 1990 - Feasibility study and route investigation.
- 1995 - Approval for Pennine Bridleway National Trail from Carsington Water, Derbyshire to Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.
- 1999 - Sport England award of £1,841,876 towards route from Derbyshire to North Yorkshire and 3 feeder routes from Keighley, Bolton and Penistone. The Pennine Bridleway project team appointed by Countryside Agency and work began in earnest.
- 2000 - Submission to the Secretary of State for Northern Extension to the Pennine Bridleway from Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria to Byrness, Northumberland.
- 2002 - Opening of the Mary Towneley Loop in 2002 - dedicated to the memory of Lady Mary Towneley who died in February 2001 after a long and bravely fought illness.
- 2002 - Approval to extend the route to Byrness, Northumberland.
- 2004 - Opening of the Southern section from Derbyshire up to the Mary Towneley Loop.
- 2005 - Opening of the Settle Loop
- 2007 - Opening of the Calder Aire link
Development of the Trail
The development of the Trail is managed by Natural England (formerly the Countryside Agency) in partnership with the local authorities. As Highway Authority, the local authorities have the powers and responsibilities for creation, management and maintenance of the Rights of Way network. At the start of the project around 40% of the approved route for the Trail was either on footpath or had no rights of access therefore new bridleway rights have had to be negotiated with landowners on the sections that were not legally rideable. In addition much of the Trail required improvement works such as drainage, surface improvements, new gates, safe road crossing points and way marking to bring it up to National Trail standards.
The Pennine Bridleway has its own National Trail officer who is responsible for overseeing the development of the Trail and once sections of the route are open, ensuring with the help of the local authorities, that the Trail is maintained to National Trail standard.
Progress to date
The southern section of the Trail, 120 miles from Derbyshire up to and including the Mary Towneley Loop, is now open. There are, however, a few remaining places where work is ongoing.
In Derbyshire, the route around Glossop is still under negotiation so interim routes for walkers and cyclists have been provided. Horse riders are advised to stop at Hayfield and restart at Torside on the Longdendale Trail. Some construction work started on "the missing link" from Monk's road in 2009 & a Pegasus crossing was installed at Glossop road near Gamesley in 2010. Further construction is planned for the section between Monks Road and High Lane in 2012 but the Glossop "gap" is unlikely to be completed before mid 2013.
North of the Mary Towneley Loop through Lancashire and North Yorkshire much of the route is now in place and has been signed and waymarked. The last remaining section still to complete runs from the A6068 northwards to Harden Old House near Kelbrook. Construction of this section of new public bridleway is due to take place over summer/autumn 2011.
Negotiations are ongoing to complete the route immediately south of Long Preston whilst designs are being prepared for the crossing of the A65. This is likely to be the last section of the route to be completed and is programmed to take place in 2012.
The route through the Dales is now physically complete on the ground and signposts are being installed however the legal agreements still have to be completed for the 3 sections of new public bridleway where the route passes over or under the Settle to Carlisle railway.
This section runs from Kirkby Stephen to Byrness in Northumberland a distance of around 140 miles, passing through Cumbria and Northumberland including Northumberland National Park. Approval to extend the route northwards was obtained in 2002. At present funding is being sought to develop the northern section and the date of opening is not yet known.
There are three link routes from Bolton, Bingley (in West Yorkshire) and Penistone - named the West Pennine, Calder Aire and Dark Peak Links respectively, which join the National Trail to these large centres of population providing opportunities to a greater number of people. The routes do not have National Trail status but are part of the Sport England funding and will provide excellent rides or walks in their own right. The links are being developed in conjunction with the local authorities in the same way as the National Trail itself. The Calder Aire link opened in 2007 and the remaining link routes are anticipated to be completed in 2012.