VIDEO: Bilton to Ripley Greenway official opening

Dedicated campaigners for the Bilton to Ripley Greenway have been honoured with portraits unveiled by charity Sustrans.

Cyclist and campaigner Malcolm Margolis and Bilton Conservation Group founding member Keith Wilkinson have been immortalised in steel on the Bilton to Ripley Greenway which was officially opened on Saturday.

Coun Michael Harrison, Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd, MP Andrew Jones and campaigner Malcolm Margolis

Coun Michael Harrison, Sustrans chief executive Malcolm Shepherd, MP Andrew Jones and campaigner Malcolm Margolis

Mr Margolis said: “After all the years of effort and difficulties it’s wonderful to see the route opened.

“It’s an honour to be chosen for the portrait but it’s not just for me it’s for a lot of people have put so much effort into this.”

Both Mr Margolis and Mr Wilkinson’s steel portraits stand a few hundred yards from the Bilton entrance to the route, along side a portrait of a young girl representing future generations of Harrogate.

Mr Wilkinson said: “I am very flattered to be immortalised in steel here.

“The route has been well used in the last few weeks and I am hopeful it will be in the future.”

The 3.7km path, for use by walkers, cyclists and horse-riders has taken 15 years to come to fruition.

The £400,000 scheme funded by a Big Lottery grant has hit a number of stumbling blocks with two public enquiries carried out in the past 18 months.

Chief executive of Sustrans Malcolm Shepherd said: “We at Sustrans are delighted with the route. It was extremely difficult and it took a long time but now it looks cracking and has been welcomed by everyone.

“We are delighted with the quality of the path and how many people are beginning to use it.

“I’m told it’s busy like this every day and I have heard businesses in Ripley praising the route for bringing people there.”

MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones cut the ribbon to officially open the route.

He said: “There are many things I love about living in this area and two of those are the sense of community and the beautiful scenery.

“This project brings those two things together.”

He was joined by Coun Michael Harrison who said: “It is wonderful to see this scheme finally open after all the hard work of a large number of people.

“I hope the local residents will enjoy this route for years to come.”

Local residents were already out in force on the popular pathway.

Bilton resident Chris Inpey said he uses the route several times a week either walking or cycling.

He said: “People need to learn to share it, it’s for everyone, cyclists and walkers.

“It is a marvellous path, the best thing to happen here in a long time.”

Paul Brightmore cycled the path with his 11-year-old daughter Leah.

He said: “I’ve been looking forward to using it for a while.

“It feels safer bringing Leah out here where there is no traffic.”

Have you used the Bilton to Ripley Greenway? What do you think of it? Let us know email or tweet @HarrogateHound.