Key common path brought back into use
A PATH along Whitmoor Common, Worplesdon, which has been impassable for years due to flooding and a build-up of mud and debris, has been resurfaced thanks to joint funding from the Worplesdon & District Bridleways Association (WDBA), the British Horse Society (BHS), Whitmoor Common Association, Sports England and Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT).
At the opening of the Summer Ride last week, Mark Weston, Director of Access, Safety and Welfare for the BHS, cut the ribbon and Nigel Davenport, CEO of SWT, received cheques from the BHS, the WDBA and Whitmoor Common Association.
Mr Weston said: “It’s so important to keep paths open for all to use, and it’s good to see the community coming together to achieve the resurfacing of this one.”
Mr Davenport said: “Thank you to those organisations that have covered the cost of this work.”
The WDBA, founded 25 years ago to look after the local network of bridleways for walkers, horse riders and cyclists, has already restored horse rides in Normandy, Pirbright, Whitmoor and Broad Street Commons, Ash Green and Wood Street.
The WDBA worked with the community as well as the BHS and SWT to secure funding to resurface and restore the Summer Ride.
The project has taken more than five years to complete, at a cost of £14,500.
Caroline Diliberto, Whitmoor Common Area Representative for the WDBA, and Paul Rijbroek of the Whitmoor Common Association, led the project.
Mrs Diliberto said: “This has been a long project, but I hope everyone will agree it has been worth it, not just for horse riders but walkers and cyclists too.”
WDBA chairman Philippa Wright said: “This has been a real community-based project. Fundraising over several years has enabled the WDBA to contribute nearly £3,500 to this challenging project.”
The SWT employed groundworks’ services contractor Poulsom Plant Hire, and it rose to the challenge, creating drainage channels, replacing a bridge, clearing debris and resurfacing more than 277 metres of the Ride.
The WDBA covers a wide area, including Worplesdon, Pirbright, Normandy, Ash, Wood Street and Whitmoor Common.
Miss Wright said: “In these difficult times, it is hard to get grants and in order to resurface more routes on our wish list. The WDBA committee works hard to organise fundraising events throughout the year. Regular path clearance is also undertaken by WDBA members on a voluntary basis.
“Although we have around 100 members, we always welcome more to join us and be part of our successful legacy for future generations to enjoy.”
Anyone interested in the WDBA will find a wealth of information on its website, www.wdba.org.uk.
Thanks to the WDBA, horse rides have resurfaced on Normandy Common (with the help of a £12,000 grant from The Big Lottery Breathing Places fund) laminated maps have been produced of Whitmoor and Broadstreet Commons, showing horse rides; rides have been reinstated in Ash Green and on Whitmoor, Backside and Broad Street Commons and landowners have been encouraged to open paths linking Wood Street and Normandy.
In 2012, the WDBA paid £14,000 to resurface an impassable bridleway between Sheets Heath Common in Brookwood and Stafford Lake Common in Knaphill.
This bridleway is now used extensively by horse riders, walkers and cyclists.
The next WDBA fundraiser is a Fun Ride at Tilford on October 15. Details can be found at www.wdba.org.uk.
The Whitmoor Common Association, formed in 1993 as a pressure group to prevent Surrey County Council from enclosing the common to allow the grazing of cattle, works actively with SWT to maintain the common through funding and volunteering.
Donations have been given toward projects such as silt removal and sluice building at Brooke Pond, the rebuilding of various paths and bridges, and the clearance of ponds and ditches.
Mr Rijbroek, chairman, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with a similarly dedicated organisation like the WDBA and we are delighted that the Summer Ride has been repaired and drained so it can be used for longer than just the summer months.”
I declare this path open: Mark Weston, Director of Access, Safety and Welfare for the BHS, cuts the ribbon to bring the Summer Ride back into use
Thou shall not pass: In need of wellies to tackle the Summer Ride