WALKERS in the North York Moors National Park have given the thumbs-up to its public rights of way.

A recent survey has revealed that it has been given a 96 per cent satisfaction rating of its management, said Richard Gunton, director of park services. He told the park authority: “It is a hugely complex task managing a 2,200km network – if put end to end it would stretch to Naples – with 13,000 individual structures such as gates, bridges and stiles.”

But as a result of pressures on the park’s budgets, it is proposed to change the responsibility for the rights of way map in the area to North Yorkshire County Council, which has statutory responsibility for the rights of way as part of the highway network.

An agreement between the county council and the park authority has been re-negotiated, said Mr Gunton, which will remove responsibility for the definitive rights of way map from the park authority and will hand back responsibility for about 90 of the largest bridges.

He said that in the past decade the condition of the rights of way had improved enormously. “This huge achievement is the result of consistent investment of resources, a focussed effort of staff, supported by a massive input of time from volunteers and apprentices and partnerships with landowners,” said Mr Gunton.

However, he said, with reduced financial resources, it is unlikely that the park will be able to carry out further improvements. “The aim is to maintain current standards.”