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Little Ouse river path opened up to horse riders between Santon Downham and Brandon

PUBLISHED: 18:31 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:31 22 February 2018

The resurfaced part of the Little Ouse Path at Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

The resurfaced part of the Little Ouse Path at Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

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A beautiful river path in the heart of the Brecks has become more accessible to horse riders.

Paula Holt and Robin on the new horse accessible Little Ouse path. Picture: Rebecca MurphyPaula Holt and Robin on the new horse accessible Little Ouse path. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

Steep concrete steps prevented access for riders to enjoy the Little Ouse Path between Santon Downham and Brandon.

But now specialist steps and resurfacing works to a 550m section has meant easy access for riders and a more even surface for walkers and cyclists.

The works have been carried out by Norfolk County Council’s Norfolk Trails team in collaboration with the British Horse Society.

Ria Moss, the now district access officer for the society, said: “It is nice we have got somewhere else we get to make use of because it is such a lovely route.

What the old steps looked like. These steps are on the other side of the path from the St Helen's Picnic site to Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca MurphyWhat the old steps looked like. These steps are on the other side of the path from the St Helen's Picnic site to Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

“It is not just for horse riders, it is brilliant for walkers too. It is amazing what they have done. We have got a lot of horse riders in the area and it is opening up somewhere else.”

The creation of the steps at Santon Downham cost £22,000 and was funded through the Breaking New Ground Partnership scheme.

The £40,000 resurfacing works, which has made a narrow and uneven path - which was prone to flooding - wider and flatter, was paid for by a Section 106 contribution.

An old bridleway bridge at Brandon has also been replaced.

Ria Moss, from the British Horse Society, with her two-year-old daughter Ophelia on Turnip with Paula Holt on Robin. Using the new horse steps on the Little Ouse path. Picture: Rebecca MurphyRia Moss, from the British Horse Society, with her two-year-old daughter Ophelia on Turnip with Paula Holt on Robin. Using the new horse steps on the Little Ouse path. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

The works had to be carried out sensitively without disturbing the sensitive wildlife habitats alongside the river.

The route runs through the heart of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) which is home to water voles, otters, kingfishers and rare birds.

Sharon Bland, a member of the Norfolk Trails team, said: “It has been a lot of work to get done. It is much more pleasurable and so much easier to walk.

“On a sunny day it is a beautiful route. It is a real asset to this area.”

The resurfaced part of the Little Ouse Path at Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca MurphyThe resurfaced part of the Little Ouse Path at Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

The Norfolk Trails team and the British Horse Society will walk the route to identify other sections of the path can be approved.

The route is part of the nine-mile Little Ouse Path walk which runs from Thetford to Brandon.

The linear walk, though popular, is still considered a “hidden gem”.

Those using it can take in a number of different habitats including heathland, forests and the peaceful meandering of the river.

The resurfaced part of the Little Ouse Path at Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca MurphyThe resurfaced part of the Little Ouse Path at Santon Downham. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

For more information visit the Norfolk Trails website.

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