As you may know, the Horsham Riverside Walk follows the water courses and rural routes surrounding Horsham. The Walk is 13.5 miles in length, never far from the town itself but is a great facility to have on Horsham’s doorstep.
Horsham Town Community Partnership held a celebratory walk event last summer to mark the completion of the first stage of their project to improve the Riverside Walk and by very popular demand are making this an annual event. The various stages of the project are being on worked on in partnership with Horsham District Council (HDC).
This year’s walk event was held on Saturday 25th July. Again it was a great success with well over 150 people taking part and many walkers came from outside the district to take part. A group of Horsham Joggers set off first from the start at Horsham Rugby Club. The 5th/10th Horsham Weald Scouts used the event to raise funds through sponsorship for their international scouting activity trip next year to Belgium. Seven disabled ramblers in rough terrain buggies led by a specific walk leader completed the 13 mile route as well as a visually impaired runner who was accompanied by a special guide. Our new local MP Jeremy Quinn and a number of Horsham District Councillors including Jonathan Chowen, HDC Cabinet Member for Arts and Leisure were also part of the walking group.
At Chesworth Farm the Friends of Chesworth provided the first refreshment break. The walk continued past St Mary’s Church along the path adjacent to Hills Farm Lane and Redford Avenue and on to Warnham Nature Reserve where there was a stop for lunch and an opportunity to purchase food and drink from Le Brunch (whose main business is in Swan Walk shopping centre) and from the Friends of Warnham Cafe. The Nature Reserve was opened between midday and 3.00pm so that walkers could enjoy the experience of the Nature Reserve rather than following the designated route along Warnham and Pondtail Roads. As many people may have never visited it before, this gave walkers the opportunity to see Warnham Local Nature Reserve and all it has to offer.
Continuing on through North Horsham walkers passed through corn fields with fantastic views over the North Downs on to New House Farm where there was a stop for afternoon tea and cake. By prior arrangement with Horsham Police, Constable James Munden was able to be in attendance on the A264 whilst the main group of walkers, including the disabled ramblers, crossed the dual carriageway. Constable Munden recognised the risks of such a large group crossing the road and implemented a rolling road closure which everyone very much appreciated.
For those who decided not to walk the whole 13.5 mile route a minibus hired from Horsham District Community Transport ferried people back to the start at the Rugby Club. The driver Kevin commented “That whilst those returning to the Rugby Club were tired after such a long but very pleasant walk, everyone enjoyed the day and had seen places in Horsham that they had never seen before”.
Although it definitely wasn’t a race, the group from Horsham Joggers completed the entire route within 4 hours and some of the first walkers to arrive back at the Rugby Club completed the entire walk in just 5 hours including refreshment stops! At the end of the walk there was lots of excitement as the Scouts and disabled ramblers returned in pretty good time, too.
Chair of HTCP, Jane Apostolou said “Everyone who took part should be congratulated, however far they walked and particularly to the family who walked the whole route with a young child in a buggy, although the child toddled over the winning line”. Jane also added that provided sufficient support is given, the walk will become an annual event. Many thanks go to the team who organised the event, particularly to the HDC Healthy Walks Team who led the walk and acted as Stewards, the First Responder who accompanied the walk and did not have one call and a very big ‘Thank you’ goes to Denne, Forest and Trafalgar Neighbourhood Councils and North Horsham Parish Council who sponsored the event.
Work is now underway for the second stage of the Riverside Walk Project. This will address the route and its surfacing (while at the same time maintaining the rural aspect of the Walk) to help facilitate better access for all users of the Walk, for recreational cycling, better access to green space and healthy outdoor exercise. Improvements to the ecological and bio-diversity aspects of the Walk will help safeguard species habitats and provide learning opportunities for school field trips. Horsham is working towards becoming a ‘dementia friendly’ town and certain areas of the Walk can tie in with this. The compilation and production of a new booklet on the heritage on or near the Walk will also be part of the next project phase.
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