South Downs National Park ramble to mark first year of park

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RAMBLERS across Hampshire are gearing up to celebrate the first anniversary of the South Downs National Park.

An eight-mile walk and a rally will mark the occasion at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Horndean, on April 1.

Owen Plunkett, from walking charity Ramblers’ Association, said: ‘The eight mile walk takes in an attractive area of the national park, including the village of Chalton and the Coulter’s Dean nature reserve.

‘We are hoping for a large turn out for the event and members of the public are specially welcome.’

The Campaign for National Parks and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England support the event.

Speakers at the rally will include Margaret Paren, the chairman of the SDNP Authority, Kate Ashbrook, who will become president of the Ramblers next month and Benedict Southworth, the new chief executive of the Ramblers.

The creation of the SDNP was achieved after a campaign that lasted many years. There was pressure for the national park as early as the 1930s.

After the second world war, the South Downs were identified as suitable for national park designation but it took until 2011 for campaigners to win their fight for it to be awarded the protected status.

The event begins at 10am.