Okeford Fitzpaine is improving access to the village for walkers and cyclists thanks to a successful grant from the Leader Fund administered by the North Dorset Local Action Group. Little Lane has been a muddy track for years, making walking and cycling impossible and unpleasant, but the trail is about to get a makeover.
Little Lane itself will have the drainage and surface improved during November making it suitable for cycling, running, horse riding and walking. The junction at the A357 will be improved by Dorset County Council, making the crossing to the North Dorset Trailway safer. This will enable Okeford Fitzpaine to be discovered by users of the Trailway, and encourage residents who might have used a car to walk or cycle to neighbouring attractions, work places, towns and villages instead. Okeford Fitzpaine is on the National Cycle Network Route 253 but currently not connected to the Trailway which itself is part of Route 25 so the vast majority of touring cyclists currently bypass Okeford Fitzpaine. Little Lane provides the obvious connection to the Network and to other walking routes such as the new White Hart Link.
The project is largely due to the hard work of Parish Councillor Dilys Gartside who worked with local footpath clearance volunteers, farmers, and council officers to research the feasibility of the project and make it a reality. She sourced the funding from the Leader Fund. Dilys described the experience as: “A demanding year of paperwork and waiting since we started the fund application process one year ago but we have been fully supported and encouraged by so many people that it has kept us focused on the ultimate goal of providing villagers with a choice between car dependency and self-propulsion !”
Chair of the Okeford Fitzpaine Parish Council, George Weeks said: “This project, when combined with the planned A357 crossing improvements, provides a safe path for walkers and cyclists which will encourage more parishioners to take more exercise and visitors to discover our lovely village.”
George Weeks: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dilys Gartside: email@example.com
LEADER is a very successful Europe wide initiative that uses local knowledge to promote an integrated bottom up, community led delivery of rural funding. The programme is delivered by Local Action Groups (LAG), made of local people who agree funding priorities based on local need.