Clare Balding spotted walking near Pateley Bridge!

Clare Balding on Pateley Bridge High Street with Nidderdale Chamber of Trade chairman Keith Tordoff.
Clare Balding on Pateley Bridge High Street with Nidderdale Chamber of Trade chairman Keith Tordoff.

Pateley Bridge and the Dales won a new celebrity fan this week - and an invaluable piece of free publicity.

Broadcaster Clare Balding OBE is currently on the Nidderdale Way having set off on Wednesday morning to record her latest edition of her long-running BBC Radio 4 series Ramblings.

The popular presenter was accompanied on foot by her wife Alice Arnold, her BBC producer Lucy Lunt and Frances Atkins, chef and co-owner of the Yorke Arms in Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale.

On hand to send her off from the high street was Keith Tordoff, chairman of Nidderdale Chamber of Trade.

Keith, who will be ferrying Clare Balding to and from the Nidderdale Way to various hotels and b&bs for the rest of her journey, said the award-winning broadcaster, journalist and author had been very impressed with the town.

He said: “She is a lovely person, very down-to-earth. She said she’d loved what she’d seen of Pateley Bridge.

“She was obviously very interested in the town.”

The celebrity visitor stayed overnight in Pateley Bridge’s Talbot Hotel and dined at Olleys Restaurant.

Thanks to Frances Atkins, Clare enjoyed a Michelin-starred packed lunch to remember on her walk, one prepared by the Yorke Arms and packed with local Dales produce.

Keith said: “She paid a lot of attention to what was going. She chatted to the Summerbridge fire brigade when they were putting up bunting on the high street for next week’s Tour de Yorkshire.

“She also spotted the massive 10ft Tour de Yorkshire bicycle we were fixing to a building, too.”

The attention paid by the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade man was more than a matter of common courtesy.

The broadcast of the show in which Clare not only undertakes a popular local walk but also shares the history of the area, will be heared by millions of listeners, most likely in July, prime tourist season.

The broadcaster’s visit has also served to highlight a new era for the Nidderdale Way and, potentially, visitor numbers.

First launched in 1983, this 53-mile long circular footpath situated within the heart of the stunning Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is being given a new push.

Keith said: “The publicity is another way that Pateley is being put on the map. The reintroduction of the Nidderdale Way will bring benefits to our local economy.”

No stone is being left unturned in the new marketing campaign.

The plaque marking its starting point has been erected and unveiled and new badges created for anyone who completes the route.

Available for free and stocked by shops on Pateley Bridge High Street, Clare will be returing to pick up one herself as part of her Ramblings show.

Keith said: “She’s due to come back to Pateley on Saturday. The weather forecase for the rest of the week is good so she should have a great time in Nidderdale.”

It’s the latest boost this year for Pateley’s fortunes since its triumph in last year’s Great British High Street competition which has seen visits recently by BBC’s Bargain Hunt team and experts from Google.

Those accompanying Clare Balding for the Nidderdale Way broadcast also include Sir Thomas Ingilby and wife Lady Emma, the Rev Mike Poole and wife Julia Wyatt and Rev Darryl Hall, Steve Spellman from Sypeland Outdoors and Keith Tordoff, Alex Tordoff and Kirsty Shepherd.