WALKERS can enjoy a new and improved route which has reopened around Sweatfords Meadow in Fordingbridge.

The Sweatfords Meadow walk has been enhanced as part of the New Forest District Council’s Greenway project which aims to improve walking routes in the district and help protect sensitive areas of the Forest.

The improvements have included resurfacing 500m of footpath with hoggin, a compacted mix of gravel, sand and clay that allows water to drain through. This will enable the path to be used throughout the year.

The narrowest sections of the path have been widened and overhanging vegetation has also been cut back in some areas to create a clearer route.

Councillor Edward Heron, New Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for planning and infrastructure said: “Our Greenway scheme aims to give our residents, including dog walkers, access to more green and natural spaces to visit and enjoy. I am delighted that our residents and their pets will be able to enjoy this new route in time for the Christmas break. By creating more, and better, walking routes in the district we can help protect our Forest, by reducing visits to some of the most sensitive areas of the New Forest National Park.”

Many areas around the water meadow have previously became waterlogged and very muddy during the winter. The council says the improvements will enable more of the paths at Sweatfords Meadow to be enjoyed for more of the year.

The meadow is open to the public all year round but, as a water meadow site, after exceptional rainfall parts of the meadow, including sections of these paths, may still become submerged under flood water.

New Forest District Council’s Greenway project aims to improve recreational walking routes across the district. The project is funded from contributions paid by developers towards environmental improvements as part of any new residential development in the district