The idea is born
In early 2010, the Forest of Dean and District Horse Riders’ and Carriage Drivers’ Association won funding for a Feasibility Study to “investigate the extent to which the currently fragmented Higher Rights of Way in the Forest of Dean District could be improved to the benefit of walkers, cyclists, horse riders and, where possible, carriage drivers”.
The following study concluded that this was possible and that a large network of mainly off-road routes, called Greenways, could be created across the Forest of Dean District.
“The Forest of Dean Greenway is a genuine community-based project. It was developed by a small group of local volunteers living in the Forest of Dean District who have turned their desire for greater access to the District’s natural environment into a £90,000 project of national significance.”
Following publication of the Feasibility Study, the Forest of Dean Local Action Group and the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust awarded the Association grants for the implementation of the project and, in September 2010, work on the Greenways began with the engagement of the Forestry Commission, local landowners and community organisations, etc.
The initial route was modified as the project developed and four interconnected Greenways, each with its own individual characteristics and appeal, are now being constructed. They comprise:
- The Dymock Greenway
- The Huntley Greenway
- The Hope Greenway
- The Blakeney Greenway and Carriage Driving Circuit
All of these Greenway routes have been designed to connect with nearby towns, villages, hotels, B&B providers, tourist attractions, equestrian centres and related businesses, etc., thus maximising the project’s benefit to the local economy.
The images on the right show work being carried out on the Greeways. Photography © www.davidbroadbent.com
By the end of June 2013, the Huntley Greenway, which includes routes through Huntley Woods and The Plantation, had been constructed and was already in use. This was quickly followed by the construction of the Dymock Greenway (Queens Wood and Hay Wood) and the Hope Wood Greenway.
The final section of the network, the Blakeney Greenway and Carriage Driving Circuit, opened in August 2013 and is now a unique 12.5 mile long carriage driving route of national importance. This spectacular figure of eight route is almost all off-road apart from one very short section of a country lane near Blakeney Hill and is also suitable for para-carriage drivers.
The Forest of Dean Greenways provide a range of potential new business opportunities for the local tourism and hospitality sector. To find out more, download our free Business Opportunities Information Pack (PDF, 800kb).