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21 September 2010
Planned footpath from Avebury to Stonehenge

A new long-distance footpath from Avebury to Stonehenge is being planned by the Friends of the Ridgeway, who want to widen their focus beyond the National Trail. Ian Ritchie, chairman of the Friends, told members of the Marlborough Area Board last week that the walk could pump an estimated £6 million into the local economy.
     Mr Ritchie explained that the 29 mile Great Stones Walk connecting the two World Heritage Sites would pass through some of the best archaeological and historic sites in Britain. He said: "This route has real historical integrity and goes by and through a wealth of archaeological and historic sites."
     As well as being an international attraction for walkers, it would bring a welcome boost to the ailing rural economy. Mr Ritchie said: "It will bring something like £6 million into the local economy, supported by the experience of the Hadrian's Wall path." The Friends estimate the walk would attract between 200,000 to 400,000 extra visitors a year and say consultations are taking place with landowners and parish councils along the route.
     Mr Ritchie said that the new path would link existing footpaths, bridleways and rights of way. The cost of improving the route to National Trail standards has been estimated at about £105,000 and Mr Ritchie said it was hoped that much of the funding would come from the Salisbury Plain and North Wessex Downs AONB groups.

Edited from The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald (12 September 2010)

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