The muddy, uneven path along the west side of Swanbourne Lake in Arundel has been transformed, making it accessible for all.
Members of The Disabled Ramblers were invited to try out the refurbished path and they were all smiles as they made their way around the lake, off Mill Road.
The work was part of the pioneering programme Miles Without Stiles, funded by Gatwick Airport, which is helping to make the South Downs National Park more accessible.
Val Rawlings, former secretary of The Disabled Ramblers, said: “It was a real treat for us to be able to see the sparkling water through the trees and we’re very grateful to all for the work that has been done. We had a really super day and will definitely be going back.”
One of the reasons the path had been so muddy in the past was the popularity of the beauty spot.
Allison Thorpe, accessibility officer for the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “The idea to improve the footpath along the western bank of Swanbourne Lake stems from a meeting between the landowner Norfolk Estate, the local SDNPA ranger and Arundel Wetland Centre.
“To a large extent many of issues with the path arose because of the site’s popularity and the sheer number of visitors it receives.
“The National Park is here for everyone to enjoy and it’s great that even more people will now be able to experience the physical and mental benefits of getting closer to nature.”
Various rough tracks have been resurfaced thanks to Gatwick Airport’s £60,000 grant towards Miles Without Stiles, which also includes work removing stiles and replacing gates.
Melanie Wrightson, community engagement manager, said: “Gatwick is delighted that Swanbourne lake will now be accessible to all people. It is another milestone in the initiative Miles Without Stiles and stems from our belief that no one should be excluded from enjoying the beauty of South Downs National Park.”
Val said Gatwick Airport had also helped fund a Miles Without Stiles route from Ditchling Beacon.
She added: “It’s two new routes for people with limited mobility and it really does mean a lot to us to be able to enjoy these special places in the National Park.”
Over the next two years, Gatwick Airport’s sponsorship will allow more routes to be made accessible for all. For more information, visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/enjoy/walking/miles-without-stiles