A public right of way connecting the North Dorset village of Okeford Fitzpaine to the North Dorset Trailway has been resurfaced thanks to local volunteers and a successful funding application to the Leader Fund administered by the North Dorset Local Action Group. County and District Councillors, local MP Simon Hoare, representatives from Cycling UK, The Ramblers, and White Hart Link walked along Little Lane in Okeford Fitzpaine with local volunteers to formally celebrate the recent drainage and resurfacing work which allows walkers and cyclists to use the public right of way. A cheque for £44,200 was presented to Okeford Fitzpaine from representatives of the North Dorset Local Action Group.
Until recently Little Lane was a muddy track, making walking and cycling impossible. Volunteers from the parish worked to try and clear a suitable route but the job required significant investment in both time and money to get it to an acceptable and sustainable standard. Parish Councillor Dilys Gartside successfully applied for and got Leader Funding from the North Dorset Local Action Group. For Dilys, the high spot was knowing that the funding had actually been awarded. “Everything had to be in place to get that funding and it was a real rollercoaster. It might not have happened at all, ”she said.
Simon Hoare, MP said: “This is a typical North Dorset project frankly. This is rural communities coming together to decide something needs to be done, identifying the problem and then a little group of like-minded people who will work together go out to see whether there is any funding available with an active parish council. And, this links communities. This is now a very safe route for families with children to walk, cyclists, dog walkers, kids on bikes, electric scooters and anything else.”
The visitors to Little Lane were impressed by the views across to Hambledon Hill and the potential for tourism in the area, now that the route has been resurfaced. County Councillor for Blackmore Vale Division, Pauline Batstone said:” This is brilliant. It is a link between the North Dorset Trailway and the White Hart Link- and this is our very first connection. And all of you volunteers have made it happen.”
Improvements to the crossing on the A357 between Little Lane and the North Dorset Trailway will be completed during 2018. A group of volunteers known as Supporters of Little Lane Action Group (SSLUGs) will continue to maintain the route following on from this project. Anyone who is interested in becoming a SLLUG can contact Dilys Gartside on email@example.com
Rachael Rowe (images, video and text)