The Chase & Chalke landscape is criss-crossed by paths, many of them ancient ways, including drove-ways high on the ridges to the south of the A30, sunken hollow-ways, old Roman Roads and the Shire Rack; the footpath that beats the boundary between Dorset and Wiltshire. In centuries past these were the main routes between settlements, the way the rural economy functioned before the coming of the motorcar and the roads we use today.
Many of these longer routes are well known to experienced walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, but many are less well-known to others and in some sections not always easy to use.
The Ancient Ways: Connecting People project aims to create opportunities for people, particularly family groups, to discover, explore and enjoy the riches of the Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley. We will be creating lots of new, mostly circular routes, producing new walking guides and encouraging everyone to lend a hand in the design and maintenance of these routes.
Our aim is to work with volunteers to create projects that will lead to the improvement of 35km of Rights of Way, maintenance of 75km Rights of Way, recording stories and features that help us understand the importance of these Ancient Ways. We’ll be making improvements to existing paths, linking up routes, widening access and identifying new informal parking spaces.
Working with every parish within the Chase & Chalke Landscape Partnership area we’ll create a new forum through our Parish Walks initiative. Co-created with you this will enable people to come together through workshops to share their enthusiasm and passion for getting outdoors and help develop a Parish Walk for each parish and linking them up to create longer inter-parish walks. Working with our parishes our aim is to set up a programme of monthly walks so that we can check our paths together, enjoy being outdoors and check for problems such as broken stiles or vegetation growth that needs cutting back.
As part of the national Walking for Health initiative we aim to establish new walking groups and a Chase & Chalke: Walk & Talk programme of regular weekly walks to boost our health and well-being.
Fancy getting involved?
Come join us, we can’t do this without you. Join our Route Checkers Team. We’re looking for volunteers to help us design, survey and develop these new routes improve rights of way by researching our network, carrying out practical conservation work, adding waymarking signs and becoming walking champions for your area. All our volunteers receive training in each task with support from the Chase & Chalke team and each task and event is fully assessed for risks so we can all keep each other safe.
If you’re a member of a local parish council, community group or local organisation, or someone who would just like to get involved why not get in touch now with our Ranger and Volunteer Co-ordinator, Roland Hughes.