A new multi-user path has opened in Easton, connecting the village with Westbury-sub-Mendip for the first time since the railway line closed in September 1963.
The new path has been made possible thanks to Somerset Council, The Strawberry Line Society, Greenways & Cycleroutes, contractors MP & KM Golding Ltd, local landowners and volunteers.
The Strawberry Line is part of the Somerset Circle which, when completed, will form a 76-mile traffic-free circuit linking Bristol, Bath, the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels.
The path in Easton is 1.8KM long and features a new accommodation bridge, fencing, levelled off sections, benches located to take advantage of stunning vistas of the Mendips and Levels, as well as over 5000 hedges and tree saplings planted.
The moment was celebrated with a community walk along the new stretch, starting at Lodge Hill in Westbury-sub-Mendip to Easton Village Hall, followed by a special ribbon cutting ceremony.
Invited guests included the former HM Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Annie Maw, and Lead Member for Economic Development, Planning & Assets at Somerset Council, Cllr Ros Wyke (who has campaigned for traffic-free paths for two decades), fellow councillors and council staff were also present, alongside representatives from Shepton Mallet Town Council, Greenways & Cycleroutes and volunteers from The Strawberry Line Society.
Cllr Wyke said:
The community walk marked a significant moment for the communities of Easton and Westbury. It was a celebration of being reunited after 60 years since the Beeching railway closure. I’m particularly pleased that children can now safety walk to school in Westbury and the communities can safely reach and enjoy each other’s facilities and events.
We continue to open more paths and get ever closer to completing the Somerset Circle and it’s only been made possible through partnership working.
I would like to thank The Strawberry Line volunteers for their commitment in reconnecting Somerset communities as well as the former Mendip District Council for funding the path, Somerset Council staff and the local landowners for their support.
Mick Fletcher, Chair of The Strawberry Line Society, said:
Our ambition is to see a continuous, traffic-free path from Shepton to the sea at Clevedon.
This stunning new section of path is an important step towards realising that vision.
It makes a vital connection between two communities, gives people a real green alternative to commuting by car for work or shopping, and will form part of the Somerset Circle.
Somerset Council and The Strawberry Line Society have been busy opening other paths in the East Somerset area, most recently at Shape Mendip, Dulcote, West Shepton Playing Fields to Pilton and Shepton Mallet to Summer Hill.
Additionally, construction is taking place at Shepton Mallet heading north through Windsor Hill and further works are soon to start on the Strawberry Line extension.
Multi-user path development is a key corporate priority for Somerset Council. The Council aims to connect communities, reduce car travel, cut carbon emissions, and promote active lifestyles across Somerset.