A NEW multi-user path has opened in Easton, safely linking the communities of Easton and Westbury-sub-Mendip 60 years after the railway line was closed in September 1963 as a result of the Beeching cuts.
The new path has been made possible thanks to Somerset Council, The Strawberry Line Society, Greenways & Cycleroutes, contractors MP & KM Golding Ltd, local landowners and volunteers.
The Strawberry Line is part of the Somerset Circle which, when completed, will form a 76-mile traffic-free circuit linking Bristol, Bath, the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels.
The path in Easton is 1.8km long and features a new accommodation bridge, fencing, levelled off sections and benches located to take advantage of views of the Mendips and Levels, as well as more 5,000 hedges and tree saplings planted.
The moment was celebrated with a community walk along the new stretch, from Lodge Hill in Westbury-sub-Mendip to Easton Village Hall, followed by a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Invited guests included the former HM Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Annie Maw, and Lead Member for Economic Development, Planning & Assets at Somerset Council, Councillor Ros Wyke. Fellow councillors and council staff were also present, alongside representatives from Shepton Mallet Town Council, Greenways & Cycleroutes and volunteers from The Strawberry Line Society.
Cllr Wyke said: “The community walk marked a significant moment for the communities of Easton and Westbury. It was a celebration of being reunited after 60 years since the Beeching railway closure. I’m particularly pleased that children can now safely walk to school in Westbury and the communities can safely reach and enjoy each other’s facilities and events.
“We continue to open more paths and get ever closer to completing the Somerset Circle and it’s only been made possible through partnership working.
“I would like to thank The Strawberry Line volunteers for their commitment in reconnecting Somerset communities as well as the former Mendip District Council for funding the path, Somerset Council staff and the local landowners for their support.”
Mick Fletcher, Chair of The Strawberry Line Society, said: “Our ambition is to see a continuous, traffic-free path from Shepton to the sea at Clevedon.
“This stunning new section of path is an important step towards realising that vision.”
• Picture: Rose Atkinson