The Piddle Path

Published: 21 June 2021

The Piddle Path

Alongside the daffodils and birdsong, this spring has also brought the longed-for return to school. After a long, lonely winter, it is a joy to see the primary school here in the Piddle Valley filled once again with children. And their return highlights one of the most important projects that the councillors of the Piddle Valley Parish Council are working on: creating a safe route to school along the Piddle Valley bridleway.

The B3143 which connects Piddletrenthide, White Lackington and Piddlehinton is narrow and busy, often with oversized agricultural and goods vehicles. Speeding has long been a problem, and the Parish Council runs a speed watch committee which reports regularly on this issue and advises on potential solutions. As a result, many parents who live close enough to cycle or walk to school feel it’s not safe to do so because the road is too dangerous and there is only a small section of pavement. Most children come to school by car and are thus not able to benefit from the proven benefits to their mental and physical health that an outdoor, active school-run would bring.

As part of the Neighbourhood Plan in 2018, the Parish Council resolved to upgrade the surface of the bridleway that runs the length of the valley in parallel with the B3143 to make it useable all year round. At present the bridleway is impassable in places during the winter months. This would create a safe alternative route to school, as well as offer innumerable other benefits to the community and environment including:

• Safe route to the school, church, village halls

• Easier access to the pubs, hairdressers and shop leading to increased trade

• Reduced parking at the school, churches, village halls and shop

• Less traffic on the road

• Improved usage of village playgrounds, tennis courts and football field

• An attraction to holidaymakers and visitors

• Access to the countryside for those less physically able

• Linking the communities and facilities of the villages and increased well being

The upgraded bridleway would also tie in well with the nationwide campaign to get people of all ages to ditch their cars in favour of cycling and walking, helping improve both the health of the nation as well as the health of the earth.

Unfortunately lack of funding and commitment meant the project stalled. Last September however a group of local volunteers came together determined to set the ball rolling again. They named the bridleway project ‘The Piddle Path’ and set about drumming up support within the community and seeking expert advice and help. With the aid of the Rights of Way team at Dorset Council, the volunteers are in the process of costing the project and hope to start a fundraising round soon. Many different organisations and individuals have stepped forward to offer their support and advice – including the vicar, the headteacher, local businesses, equestrian groups, as well as parents and valley residents. And the community has made its voice heard with a signature campaign and a dynamic Facebook group. Together we can make this happen!