This project has created a multi-use route (walking, cycling and horse-riding) with short sections and circular paths connecting Thetford to Brandon along the Little Ouse valley as well as the surrounding Thetford Forest Park. It provides a free local resource for community activities, schools and others to engage with the environment and learn about their heritage as well as taking exercise and addressing health issues related to obesity and poor lifestyle. Despite significant issues relating to Habitat Regulation Assessment, Site of Special Scientific Interest consent and potential for negative impacts on the Special Area for Conservation, this project has significantly improved the accessibility and signage of the Little Ouse River Path and created a number of new circular routes and cycle trails that link Thetford and Brandon to each other and to the wider Right of Way network in both Norfolk and Suffolk.
Access improvements include removal of obstructions and structures, surface improvements, bridge upgrading, and construction of ‘horse-steps’ to facilitate new bridleway access for horse riders. In addition to the 9 mile linear route the project has created 3 cycle links totalling 37 miles, 2 new walks loops of 7 miles and 4.5 miles, improved waymarking to include distance marking, and produced a series of informative leaflets to promote and support users.
The project also engaged volunteers to carry out infrastructure and heritage and accessibility audits, route development and installation of waymarkers.