Mend Our Way hits £120,000 target

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Mend Our Way appeal. 

A campaign to fix one of Britain’s most treasured walking trails, the South Downs Way, has hit its £120,000 target following an incredible community fundraising effort.

The public, community groups, local businesses and donors have all rallied round to raise the sum in just over a year to ensure that vital improvements are made to the 100-mile national trail, which runs between Winchester and Eastbourne. 

Now the South Downs National Park Trust, the charity co-ordinating the Mend Our Way fundraising campaign, is extending a massive ‘thank you’ to all the people who have made it possible.

The Mend Our Way appeal is part of the national ‘Make a Million’ initiative, which is run by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and seeks to raise £1m for some of the UK’s most treasured trails.

Work is already under way to mend sections of the trail that were in desperate need of refurbishment, with a section at Plumpton transformed from a muddy, water-logged track into a brand-new, weather-resistant path. Work to fix other broken sections will take place later this year.

“We want to say a huge thank you to each and every person who donated,” said Andy Gattiker, trail officer for the South Downs Way.

“When we launched the appeal at the end of 2017, we knew people loved the South Downs Way and so were expecting a good response.

“But the community’s goodwill has far exceeded anybody’s expectations – it’s been phenomenal.”

Andy added: “Every single penny donated will go towards mending sections of the trail that had suffered the effects of erosion and mud over several decades.

“Fifteen thousand pairs of boots, 10,000 tyres and 800 hooves travelling the length of the trail each year certainly cause a lot of wear and tear!

“Our existing funding had allowed us to make most repairs but there were more remote sections of the path that were simply too expensive to tackle using existing funds.

“This additional funding, the benefits of which are already being seen, will make a huge difference to the long-term vitality of the trail and ensure it can be enjoyed for many generations to come.”

The South Downs Way, which is an ancient track thought to have been used by people for around 8,000 years, attracts 20,000 visitors each year who walk, cycle or ride its length. Millions more explore sections of the trail every year.

The £120,000 was raised from a mixture of public donations, crowdfunding and a number of donations, including from:

  • British Mountaineering Council
  • Langham Brewery
  • The Gerald Micklem Charitable Trust
  • The Monument Trust
  • The Chalk Cliff Trust
  • Friends of the South Downs
  • The Banister Charitable Trust
  • Ian Askew Charitable Trust
  • The Calleva Foundation
  • HF Holidays
  • Trail Riders Fellowship
  • M J Camp Charitable Trust
  • Players of the Peoples Postcode Lottery

Carey Davies, Mend our Mountains Campaign Lead, said: “We’re thrilled that the Mend Our Way appeal has its target so quickly and it’s testament to how much people love the South Downs Way.

“This has been a great example of what can be achieved by working together. Trails like the South Downs Way are more than just a means of getting from one place to another – they are the beating heart of National Parks where people cannot fail to be inspired by the stunning landscape around them.

“We all have a role to play in looking after these trails and it’s wonderful that this project will ensure the South Downs Way is safeguarded for everyone to enjoy for many years to come.”

The South Downs National Park Trust is the official charity of the South Downs National Park. To find out more about the South Downs National Park Trust and the work they do visit www.southdownstrust.org.uk

Find out more about the Mend Our Mountains appeal at https://mendmountains.thebmc.co.uk/

Mend Our Way work completed:

Plumpton Plain, East Sussex

More than 80,000 people walk the high Plumpton Plain track between Ditchling Beacon and the market town of Lewes every year. Although it’s 200m above the sea, the path is flat, so surface water is a big problem. Work has been carried out to repair, strengthen and add drainage to the path, ensuring it can continue to give joy to thousands of people.

Mend Our Way work scheduled for later this year:

Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire

A scheduled ancient monument with an Iron Age Hill Fort, a Bronze Age cemetery and a National Nature Reserve, this is one of the most iconic hills in the South Downs National Park. But the route up to it becomes a slippery kilometre of boot-churned mud every winter. Being inaccessible to machinery and vehicles makes it a great place to be (when it’s dry) but almost impossible to fix. Work will be carried out to scrape away the mud and replace the surface with stones.

Hyden Lane, Butser Hill, Hampshire

The mile-long track sits on top of the chalk ridge but suffers from lack of drainage. As large puddles get trapped on the busy path the surface breaks up and becomes muddy. The work will replace the existing surface with new weather-resistant layers and create a camber to help it drain.

Millpond Bottom, West Sussex

Successive feet, wheels and hooves have more than doubled the width of the chalk track between Beacon Hill and Penn Hill – putting nearby sensitive Scheduled Ancient Monuments at risk. The funding will be used to safely transport materials to the remote site, mend the trail and keep walkers on the straight and narrow.