Marlborough Downs gets new horse-drawn driving route

Marlborough Downs
Image caption The Kennet Valley Driving Group RDA said the new track runs from Old Eagle towards Four Mile Clump

One of Wiltshire's most picturesque landscapes has been made more accessible to people with disabilities.

Farmers have restored 1.4 miles (2.2km) of tracks on the Marlborough Downs to make them useable by specially-adapted horse-led carriages.

The Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) also gives rides to injured soldiers as part of the project.

The new tracks were officially opened by General Sir Mike Jackson.

"Having served the British army for over 45 years, I have witnessed the devastating effect a disability can have both physically and mentally," the former chief of the general staff said.

"This driving route provides a remarkable opportunity for anyone with a disability as they can access the Marlborough Downs and experience its stunning surroundings within the peace of a horse-drawn carriage."

Image caption The Marlborough Downs have been opened up to give disabled drivers better access

Sir Mike said the initiative by the MDNIA and Kennet Valley Carriage Driving Group (KVCDG) Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) was "fantastic".

Launched in 2012, the farmer-led MDNIA is a partnership between local farmers, Wiltshire Council and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Through the project, the Rockley-based KVCDG - part of the RDA organisation - offers disabled people, and wounded military personnel from Tedworth House Recovery Centre, the opportunity to try carriage driving.

Bryony Fuller, a regular member and one of the first to enjoy the new route, said: "I simply treasure the time I spend with the driving group.

"It allows me to get out in the fresh air and experience the breathtaking Marlborough Downs whilst also meeting with likeminded people."

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