Celebrations as campaign to ‘mend’ South Downs Way reaches £120,000 target

Andy Gattiker, trail officer for the South Downs Way, photo by Anne Purkiss
Andy Gattiker, trail officer for the South Downs Way, photo by Anne Purkiss

A campaign to fix one of Britain’s most treasured walking trails, the South Downs Way, has hit its £120,000 target following a community fundraising effort.

The public, community groups, local businesses and donors rallied to raise the sum to ensure vital improvements are made to the 100-mile national trail, which runs between Winchester and Eastbourne.

Before and after: a waterlogged section of Plumpton Plain has been transformed into a weather resistent path

Before and after: a waterlogged section of Plumpton Plain has been transformed into a weather resistent path

Now the South Downs National Park Trust, the charity co-ordinating the Mend Our Way fundraising campaign, is thanking all the people who have made it possible.

Andy Gattiker, trail officer for the South Downs Way, said, “We want to say a huge thank you to each and every person who donated. When we launched the appeal at the end of 2017, we knew people loved the South Downs Way and so were expecting a good response.

“But the community’s goodwill has far exceeded anybody’s expectations – it’s been phenomenal.”

The Mend Our Way appeal is part of the national ‘Make a Million’ initiative, which is run by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and seeks to raise £1m for some of the UK’s most treasured trails.

The South Downs Way

The South Downs Way

Work is already under way to mend sections of the trail that were in what they charity described as “desperate” need of refurbishment, with a section at Plumpton transformed from a muddy, water-logged track into a new, weather-resistant path. Work to fix other broken sections will take place later this year.

Andy said, “Every single penny donated will go towards mending sections of the trail that had suffered the effects of erosion and mud over several decades. Fifteen thousand pairs of boots, 10,000 tyres and 800 hooves travelling the length of the trail each year certainly cause a lot of wear and tear!

“Our existing funding had allowed us to make most repairs but there were more remote sections of the path that were simply too expensive to tackle using existing funds.

“This additional funding, the benefits of which are already being seen, will make a huge difference to the long-term vitality of the trail and ensure it can be enjoyed for many generations to come.”

Devil's Dyke the South Down's Way

Devil's Dyke the South Down's Way

The South Downs Way, which is an ancient track thought to have been used by people for around 8,000 years, attracts 20,000 visitors each year who walk, cycle or ride its length. Millions more explore sections of the trail every year.

The £120,000 was raised from a mixture of public donations, crowdfunding and a number of donations.

Carey Davies, Mend our Mountains campaign lead, said, “We’re thrilled the Mend Our Way appeal has its target so quickly and it’s testament to how much people love the South Downs Way.

“This has been a great example of what can be achieved by working together. Trails like the South Downs Way are more than just a means of getting from one place to another – they are the beating heart of National Parks where people cannot fail to be inspired by the stunning landscape around them.

“We all have a role to play in looking after these trails and it’s wonderful that this project will ensure the South Downs Way is safeguarded for everyone to enjoy for many years to come.”

The South Downs National Park Trust is the official charity of the South Downs National Park. To find out more about the South Downs National Park Trust and the work they do visit www.southdownstrust.org.uk

Find out more about the Mend Our Mountains appeal at www.mendmountains.thebmc.co.uk/