The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the Hampshire Countryside Access Forum almost £50,000 to run an exciting new project Providing Access to Hampshire’s Heritage (PATHH). More than 100 volunteers of all ages, from school children to senior citizens, will have the opportunity to investigate the history of their local area on original maps and documents. Bydelving into these historic records, often several hundred years old, volunteers will gather information about gaps in today’s network of public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways.
Our rights of way network is increasingly valued for recreation, trips to and from work, the village shop or pub and for healthy exercise. Through this project we expect to meet some of the requests for improvement made by modern day residents.
Initiated by Hampshire Countryside Access Forum, the project has the support of New Forest Access Forum and Hampshire County Council.
Sue Coles, a Hampshire Forum member, said ‘This is a wonderful opportunity. It will help improve access to Hampshire’s countryside for walkers, cyclists and equestrians. It really is a case of the past informing the future.’
This project follows a successful pilot, Discovering Hampshire's Lost Ways, in 2008, where 50 volunteers carried out research in the Hampshire Record Office, looking at gaps in the network which would meet modern needs as identified through Hampshire County Council’s ‘Countryside Access Plans’. Several paths were subsequently added to the legal record of rights of way, safeguarding them for the future.