Lake District paths opened for walkers

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The Independent Online

More than 1,000 miles of rural footpaths were reopened yesterday, five months after they were closed because of foot-and-mouth.

More than 1,000 miles of rural footpaths were reopened yesterday, five months after they were closed because of foot-and-mouth.

Restrictions were lifted in 65 per cent of the Lake District National Park, from Windermere town in the south to the A66 Keswick to Penrith road in the north. Footpaths were also reopened on the Pennine Way near Alston in east Cumbria and on Hadrian's Wall at Bewcastle in the north.

The move was agreed by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs after a decline of the livestock disease in the area. After the February closures, visitor figures fell by five million, at an estimated cost of £288m to the local economy.

Rex Toft, of Cumbria County Council, said: "A balance had to be struck between helping the tourist industry while doing what we could to protect our livestock against the further spread of foot-and-mouth. It's been an agonising time leading up to this decision."

Chris Collier, the chief executive of the Cumbria Tourist Board, said at a ceremonyto mark the reopening: said: "This is a very important day for tourism in Cumbria. Not only walkers, but mountain bikers and climbers can now fully enjoy the Lake District and other parts of the county.

"The restricted access had made it difficult for visitors to understand, but now they can go wherever they like again."

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