New path helps schoolchildren beat the mud

A group of Oxfordshire schoolchildren can now hang up their wellies after a muddy footpath between their village and primary school was replaced with a smart all-weather gravel surface just in time for winter.

Every day, at least 50 youngsters and their parents walk to and from Kingston Blount to Aston Rowant School and, until the path was completed, wet weather meant they and their parents either had to slip and slide through the mud or hop in the car.

Now however, thanks to a community fundraising campaign by Aston Rowant Parish Council, the work has been completed at a cost of just over £25,000.

Schoolchildren and other guests at the official opening of the footpath between Kingston Blount to Aston Rowant
Schoolchildren and other guests at the official opening of the footpath between Kingston Blount to Aston Rowant

Making a donation of £10,000, alongside others including the parish council and a local landowner, was Grundon Waste Management. Through environmental charity the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2), Grundon provided the funding from the Landfill Communities Fund.

Peter Hetherington, Aston Rowant path warden, said: “The Parish Council and the community are delighted with the outcome. It makes all the hard work of fundraising worthwhile.”

The footpath provides an important link between the two villages, and in the summer, an estimated 250 walkers use the route every day.

In addition to schoolchildren, the path is used by recreational walkers and dog walkers; people visiting pubs, shops and amenities in nearby Chinnor and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and is also an important link to the main bus route between Oxford and London.

Anthony Foxlee-Brown, Head of Marketing Communications at Grundon, said: “We were delighted to be able to fund this pathway project, both for the local communities and visitors to this beautiful area of countryside.

“Encouraging families to leave their car at home helps children enjoy the nature that’s right around them and of course it’s more environmentally friendly and healthier as well.”

The pathway was opened when Garth Weston, a local landowner who contributed to the project privately and through the Garfield Weston Foundation, cut the official ribbon.

Other funding came from organisations including Aston Rowant Parish Council and the Hillwerke Village Hall Trust.

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