New signed footpaths could put Sidmouth on the map

PUBLISHED: 12:30 29 December 2017

Richard Eley, former chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

Richard Eley, former chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce

Archant

A pair of new signed footpaths could put Sidmouth on the map as a walking destination – and provide unique ways to commemorate the end of World War One.

Proposing the idea, chamber of commerce representative Richard Eley said there are more than 500 routes around the town, but none are signposted.

He argued a 13-mile signed path and a ‘linear park’ would be inexpensive to create, free to the user, and they could be lined with poppies, wildflowers or cherry trees to remember those lost in conflict.

Mr Eley told Sidmouth Town Council’s tourism and economy committee: “You don’t need to spend millions. It doesn’t need any new building or planning. It’s a very inexpensive way of bringing in a fresh clientele.

“It must be properly signposted. The other compelling need is a good website. It must have a distinctive web presence. We can do it easily, quickly and cheaply.”

He estimated the cost of creating the signage and a website to be between £5,000 and £10,000 and said extras along the route, like artwork or memorials to special events, could come later.

Mr Eley, who is also working on an ‘Apple Trail’ linking Sidmouth and the cider-producing South West, added: “I would like to plant 953,000 poppy seeds to mark every British soldier lost in World War One. I’ll do it myself. The Royal British Legion thought it was a brilliant idea. “I’d like to put 18 million wildflower seeds along the route. That’s every death in World War One – every civilian and military death. What a message that would send. What a mark of respect.

“I would like to plant 50 cherry trees for the 50 people from Sidmouth who lost their lives.”

He noted that Sidmouth has an established walking festival and Walkers are Welcome status.

Councillor John Dyson said the parish paths partnership has a network of volunteers who maintain the valley’s footpaths, and the committee agreed it should play a key role in the proposals.

Cllr Ian Barlow suggested having a barcode that would link to more information on each signpost, in order to ‘future-proof’ the walk. His proposal to put £5,000 towards the project was backed by the committee and will now go the full council.

Cllr Barlow added that the chamber of commerce and the hotels in particular would benefit from the project, so they should also contribute.

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