White Hart Link – new project launch

Walking in the beautiful Blackmore Vale in North Dorset will soon become even more rewarding!

April 27th saw the launch of an exciting new project – the White Hart Link – a 50 mile/80 km walking route linking the five Towns of North Dorset – Gillingham, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Blandford Forum and Shaftesbury –  using footpaths and quiet lanes.

Developed from the vision of Janet Swiss (artist and local resident) it is hoped that the White Hart Link will attract visitors, support local business and encourage enterprise. Led by volunteers, the project forms the basis for community groups to feed into and benefit from activities along the route.

Why the White Hart Link? The Blackmore Vale was once known as the Vale of the White Hart. Legend has it that a white stag that was protected by Henry lll was killed by a bailiff of Blackmore Forest. He was fined and imprisoned and the Vale paid a fine of White Hart Silver for many years

it is hoped that sections of the route will be ‘adopted’ by communities through which it passes, with each local group encouraging the involvement of all ages and abilities, and young people in particular to care about and protect their environment, and develop rural skills.

Future developments will involve producing walk leaflets, linking the route with local points of interest/viewpoints/National Trails/heritage assets/art/businesses/B&Bs/etc .

The launch event itself involved Mayors and Councillors from the participating Towns, who watched as pupils from Stalbridge Primary School fixed the first route markers along the stretch they will adopt. The first leg which will be ‘open for business’ will be that between Stalbridge and Gillingham, which is planned to be finished to tie in with the Gillingham Walking Festival, on September 3rd this year. Working with the Dorset Countryside Rangers, it is envisaged that the whole walking route will established and ‘route-marked’ within four years.

For further information, or to become involved, please contact Jan Wardell (info@whitehartlink.uk).