The trustees of The Watercress Way Charity have provided an update on recent activities.
The aim of the charity is to open up more of the two disused railway lines between Alresford-Kings Worthy and Kings Worthy-Sutton Scotney for non-motorised public access as well as to promote the use of the existing route to link communities and help the wellbeing of the public.
Since 2019 the charity has:
- Received the endorsement and backing of various relevant government organisations at parish and county level as well as the South Downs National Park (SDNP). It was particularly gratifying to see the latest SDNPA Local Plan 2019 protecting the route of the original Mid-Hants line from Kings Worthy to Alresford.
- Worked actively with Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council and Worthys Conservation Volunteers to improve access and habitat status of the disused railway lines by regular volunteer maintenance using equipment donated by the SDNP.
- Agreed footpaths along the old track bed through Top Field, Kings Worthy linking to the cutting in Woodhams Farm Lane. We are working with Winchester City Council to open these paths in 2021.
- Erected interpretation boards and benches at several key gateways onto the trail.
- Produced walking guides to the trail in both directions highlighting the heritage and ecology.
- Developed a range of shorter self-guided walking, cycling and riding loops including doing the whole trail in 8 short walks.
- Cleared the debris under Wonston Bridge with assistance of a grant from Wonston Parish Council. We aim to open this area as an amenity for local residents in Sutton Scotney.
- Obtained a donation from Alresford Rotary Club to install a further 10 benches around the trail to enhance Access for All.
- Improved the surface of the flat mile in Martyr Worthy by removal of tree roots. We are working with Itchen Valley Parish Council to improve access to the cutting from Couch Green car park.
- Used social media to publicise our work and encourage public participation in our regular events. These include guided walks, children’s events and quizzes. Our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook followers are rising steadily and the webpage is popular. We also have regular coverage in local publications including the Hampshire Chronicle.
They have also published the following documents that you can download below: