The Watercress Way – End of year Review of activities
The Watercress Way Trustees talked to Upper Itchen Valley Association AGM.
With only half an hour to outline the charity’s aims, challenges and successes, the trustees Jackie Porter and Kim Adams managed a passionate whirlwind resume!
Members, despite their local knowledge, were entranced by the wider vision of The Watercress Way.
A series of images were carefully chosen to explain the history of the charity run by just a handful of trustees from its inception in 2016.
Its aims are much wider than creating just a walking route.
Local communities are linked by the mainly off road route based on the Mid Hants and Didcot – Newbury – Southampton disused railway lines, joined by historic livestock droves.
Separate routes are available for cyclists and horse riders.
Kim outlined some of the heritage and ecology ranging from telegraph poles to scarlet elf caps.
She was proud to highlight the latest improvements to the existing 26 mile route based on Top Field in Kings Worthy, opening up the Sutton Scotney railway bridge and a project to enhance access for all at Couch Green.
She described the range of events for adults and children and the latest volunteer recruits: two Peter Symonds students who live in the valley who have offered regular weekly help.
They will be improving signage as well as practical support in conservation projects (basic clearance of summer growth and log pile construction to encourage invertebrates)
The charity recently gained national recognition with an award from the CPRE for Outstanding Community Service.
However, the trail is about more than people: for example dormice habitats are to be enhanced as one of their 2020’s projects.
There is also scope to plant new trees along the disused tracks, which will help global efforts on climate change.
During the question and answer session it was clear that it would be beneficial for there to be greater co-operation between the various charities and societies acting to conserve and enhance the environment of the upper River Itchen corridor.
Lastly the audience was given a chance to use the charity’s QR code projected up on the screen to directly access its website from smartphones.
QR codes will be used for new interpretation posts funded by the Newitt legacy and look out for more ’Stop a while‘ benches along the route!
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