RESIDENTS have heaped praise on the recently completed improvements to a major cycle and pedestrian footpath connecting Dorset and Hampshire.

Dorset Council has completed its extensive work to improve the Castleman Trailway in East Dorset after eight months of work and around £180k spent.

The trailway and its connecting paths are well used by people on foot, bike, and wheelchairs to make short trips to shops, schools, and workplaces, as well as for recreational trips.

In recent years, however, the trailway’s surface quality deteriorated and became extremely muddy after wet weather – reducing year-round access. Barriers and narrow gates also reduced access for some trail users.

Salisbury Journal: Castleman Trailway before improvement workCastleman Trailway before improvement work

Dorset Council countryside staff, volunteers and contractors began work on the trail in October 2021, aiming to provide a wider, better-quality surface. This included drainage works, new surfacing and regrading more than 5.5km of the trailway from Verwood Road to West Moors.

Much of the route has now been widened, replacing two 1.5m wide paths with a single path of 4-5m. Barriers on the route have been replaced with bollards to improve accessibility for mobility vehicles and wheelchair users, as well as for people on bikes and horse riders.

Volunteers have also seeded verges with wildflowers, and new signage and benches will be installed shortly.

The completion of the work was heralded with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

St. Ives resident and mobility scooter user Ray said: “It was impossible for me to use the Trailway before the upgrade as the galvanized steel barriers prevented access.

Salisbury Journal: Castleman Trailway at Ashley Heath after improvement works completedCastleman Trailway at Ashley Heath after improvement works completed

“The only way for me to get to Ringwood was to use the pavement running alongside the A31, this was within a metre away from racing traffic – very unpleasant and felt very dangerous.

“Now I can join the Trailway and take a quiet trip along it with an eye to all the nature on the way. It is a great benefit for me, and I expect many others, disabled or not.”

The scheme was paid for mostly from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “I want to thank the volunteers, council officers and contractors for all their hard work on this project. It’s vitally important we help provide accessible options for active travel as part of our Climate and Ecological Emergency strategy if we hope to entice people out of their cars and reduce Dorset’s carbon footprint.”


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