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More off-road riding for equestrians in Dorset

31 May 2013

The British Horse Society has presented one of their coveted Access Awards to Dorset County Council at the opening of a new section of the North Dorset Trailway. BHS County Access and Bridleways Officer, Carol Shoopman, attended the opening to present the award to Angus Campell and Lesley Gasson.

Dorset County Council, in conjunction with North Dorset District Council and the North Dorset Trailway Group, set up a project to open a multiuser route on the disused Somerset and Dorset railway line, The North Dorset Trailway.  It is a 3-4m path on an all-weather surface, hard wearing and suitable for all users.  Giles Nicholson the Head Ranger for Dorset County Council has worked tirelessly with many landowners to persuade them to return the route to public use. The route is greatly supported by Councillors, The Ramblers Association, Cycling Groups and of course The British Horse Society. This multi user track is now open from Sturminster Newton and a further link to Blandford was officially opened on Sunday 19th May 2013.

Around 1000 people including horse riders, walkers, runners and people on mobility and pedal scooters turned out for the opening of the new section, which was opened by Angus Campell, former leader of Dorset County Council. Angus thanked the huge number of people involved, including the national cycle network Sustrans which provided funding for the extension and the volunteers who cleared the route, led by Lesley Gasson, chairman of the Friends of the North Dorset Trailway.

There are many interesting points and views along the route, like the old Roman Fort at Hod Hill. Some of the old stations are still in situ, Shillingstone station now supports a cafe, there are stretching bars for joggers, a favourite route for the less able and great links for horse riders to bridleways on either side, and there is parking for horse boxes at various points.  Footpaths have been diverted, a tunnel under the A350 has been excavated at Stourpaine, trees felled, an old landfill site in a cutting has been dug out and returned to its original state, a large barn has been moved and erected on another site and secure fencing erected.

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