Rangers are patrolling a new trail along a former railway which opened in the summer to a chorus of complaints from nearby neighbours.

The 12 volunteers, who have bought their own jackets, hope to be the eyes and ears to any vandalism or trouble making along the Great Northern Trail.

The track was opened to walkers, horse riders and cyclists in May after a £250,000 restoration. It included refurbishing two magnificent viaducts - Cullingworth and Hewenden.

Jeff McQuillan, of Sustrans, the alternative transport group which is spearheading the project to open up the whole route from Cullingworth to Queensbury, said: "They will be our ears and eyes and patrol on a regular basis. They will report back any damage or anything else that needs our attention."

It was hoped that their regular presence would also act as a deterrent but he stressed that there had been very few problems since the opening in May.

"We can understand people's feeling about change - of not knowing what is round the corner. That is normal," he added.

Liaison ranger Richard Kunz, 36, who works as a physiotherapist, said: "It's a visible presence and we want to show we are pro-active rather than reactive.

"We've had an excellent response and have about 12 volunteers on board, who do litter picking and keep the trail up to standard."

Mr Kunz, of Bingley, also praised the trail, which has received criticism from parish councillors and residents since it opened. Nearby residents complained of losing their privacy and of people straying into their gardens.

Mr Kunz said: "I think it's the best thing to happen in Cullingworth for years. There are walkers and rangers on it every day and I go up once a week. If there is a problem, they get in touch with me."

Mr Kunz added that the rangers were now seeking to develop links with local schools and hoped to stage a competition, with a mountain bike on offer as a prize.

Plans for phase two of the trail - between Thornton and Queensbury - are expected to be submitted to Bradford Council within the next three weeks.

Sustrans hope to start the project - expected to cost about £500,000 - in about two year's time. It will involve restoring Thornton viaduct.

The final phase, the middle section, is more problematic because part of the old railway line is tunnelled.