On behalf of The Council and Kent Wildlife Trust, It was a delight to welcome those gathered to the official opening of the new Hothfield Triangle Trail.
The trail is a new accessible path that Kent Wildlife Trust and its contractors have created, opening up this beautiful area to people of all abilities.
As someone with a family member who uses a mobility scooter, I understand how difficult it can be to find outdoor space in the natural world to enjoy together, and so the scheme is something I can truly appreciate.
Ashford Borough Council is committed to encouraging people of all backgrounds and capabilities to engage in healthy outdoor activities and to enable everyone to enjoy the exceptional countryside and natural environment that surrounds us. And so, when Ian Rickards and his team from Kent Wildlife Trust proposed a path to open up a previously inaccessible area of Hothfield, and committed to it being accessible for people with limited mobility, the Council was very pleased to provide the necessary funding to make it a reality.
Ian and the team were aware that this popular nature reserve can be difficult to access, particularly in the winter months when paths become eroded and muddy. Add to this the sensitive nature of the area and you can begin to understand the challenge they faced in delivering a pathway that captures the essence of the location, without causing harm.
Rise to this challenge they did, and you will see today, that the path passes through a beautiful section of the Hothfield Heathlands nature reserve. Cleverly, the area chosen falls outside the protected Site of Scientific Interest, making it less sensitive to disturbance, whilst still providing an opportunity to enjoy the trees, birds, insects and wildlife that are typical of life within the Triangle.
A huge thank goes to the KWT team for delivering this scheme so thoughtfully, and also to members of Ashford Access Group who assisted in preparing the designs for the trail, and I'd like to thank them for their valuable input into the overall concept.
The Council continues to work alongside Kent Wildlife Trust to deliver many other projects aimed at improving access to our unpredictable natural habitats, including in Hoads Wood, The Warren and Conningbrook Lakes Country Park. And, there will be further schemes here in Hothfield which will enhance the quality of some paths within the main reserve too.
I hope the new trail will see many more people, regardless of their ability, be able to enjoy the incredible place at any time of the year.
You might however still need to bring an umbrella... or a parasol!