Lythe Lane is a public highway which runs along the boundary between the parishes of Steep and Stroud, just north of Petersfield, Hampshire, in the South Downs National Park. It runs down a steep chalk escarpment, which makes it particularly prone to erosion. No maintenance work had been done on the path for many, many years, with the result that the path was effectively out of repair for the majority of users.
Jenny Martin of the East Hampshire Hangers Bridleways Action Group took on the daunting task of restoring it to the network, supported by Steep Parish Council, and Brenda King, then County Access and Bridleways Officer for The British Horse Society. Jenny's team first obtained estimates for the work required, and were pleased to receive an affordable quote from local contractor (and equine enthusiast!) Chris Budd.
An funding application was the submitted to the Hampshire County Council Small Grants Scheme, eventually resulting in a 50% grant being awarded. The remaining 50% was raised from Hampshire Highways, local users and user groups, including a £300 grant from the BHS Hampshire County Committee. Adjacent landowners also lent their support, and work finally began on 14 November 2012.
The first priority was to open up drainage ditches to divert surface water off the path, and to remove flood water from the lower section. The erosion gullies were then levelled to create a smooth, well-drained surface. Thanks to an unexpected spell of dry weather the work was completed within 5 days, with minimal disruption.
Users have wasted no time in enjoying it again and the renovation of the path has opened up another very welcome off-road hacking route.