THE WHITE HART LINK is an exciting and wide-ranging project which has been set up to create a 50 mile circular walking route linking the five towns of North Dorset. The link uses existing rights of way and quiet lanes, has the support of the Dorset County Council Countryside Rangers, will promote this route as a uniting and sustainable focus for the enjoyment, enhancement and protection of the area and will involve local communities, landowners and enterprises along the route in creating and promoting it.
The first link between Stalbridge and Gillingham was “opened” in September 2017. It has been route-marked and is walkable and further improvements are being planned. Work has also started on the next link between Sturminster Newton and Stourpaine which will be “opened” in November 2017. It is intended that the full 50 mile route, linking Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Blandford, Shaftesbury and Gillingham will be completed to a high standard by September 2019.
Over the next two years, the White Hart Link will be fully route-marked. Route improvements will be undertaken and a website and social media presence will be developed, allowing the project to engage with local communities and businesses and encourage projects involved with health, education, heritage, art and tourism to be associated with the route.
The project is a Community Group, led by a committee of volunteers and supported by The Three Rivers Community Partnership which is Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee.
One key aspect of developing the route is to provide top quality signs and information. Placing route-markers is just the first step. Now we need to provide walkers with good information to encourage them to use a part or all of the route and to add to their enjoyment.
1. People are encouraged to use an unfamiliar path when they know something about it. Showing the next place on the route and how far away it is acts as an invitation. For the first link volunteers will erect twelve fingerposts at key points along the route. These will show the White Hart Link logo and the name and distance to next town or village or to a place of interest off the route.
2. We want to encourage walkers on the route to explore and enjoy the area through which they are passing. At each town and village we will erect an illustrative map board showing points of interest and local information. These will be A1 Lectern style. Four are needed on the first link. We have an outline design which will be used for all of these. The detailed designs will be developed from information collected by local groups and drawn up by a local volunteer artist.
The White Hart Link Team are a dedicated team of walking enthusiasts who are working incredibly hard to realise this unique project, bringing together many community groups to participate in making their dream a reality - a major new opportunity for improving health and well-being through walking in North Dorset.
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