Next link in Centurion Way opens for walkers and cyclists

A 2.5km stretch of new and improved path is opening up year-round access for walkers and cyclists of all abilities from Chichester into the heart of the South Downs National Park.

The new section of the Centurion Way was officially opened by Trevor Beattie, CEO for the South Downs National Park Authority and Alex Barron, Chief Executive of the Edward James Foundation on Tuesday 22 December 2015. The trail follows the line of the old Chichester to Midhurst railway line, the last section of which closed in 1991.

For the time being the trail will end with information panels at West Dean tunnel telling the story of the railway line. Existing access to the village itself stays the same via the segregated path alongside the A286. Further sections of the route will be created as funding becomes available.

Trevor Beattie, Chief Executive for the South Downs National Park Authority, said:

“This new section of path is part of our long-term ambition to create a safe off-road route for walkers and cyclists stretching all the way through the National Park from Chichester to Midhurst.

“We’re grateful to the Edward James Foundation and their tenants who we’re working with to protect access rights on the trail for the long-term. So far this has included widening the top end of the trail to allow safe access for the occasional farm vehicles and moving a manege to make sure that the local equestrians don’t lose out. Our next steps are to keep working with the estate and the parish to agree a better route from the path into the village and find funding to extend the trail further.”

Alex Barron, Chief Executive of the Edward James Foundation, said:

‘The first upgraded section opened in August and we anticipate great comments now that the remainder of the route is opened, with its improved surface and wider path. It was really important to make sure that it’s a shared space that can be enjoyed by visitors and the community and we hope it will be a real boost for the local economy.”

The project is one small part of a £5 million investment, supported by the Department for Transport, in a network of core cycling and shared paths across the South Downs National Park.