Safety, health and the environment were put at the top of the agenda in Wayland this weekend as a new walk and cycle path was unveiled.

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The mile-and-a-half route, linking the village of Griston and the town of Watton, was the result of a public vote and was funded by a £25,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Plans for the path were formed as early as 2000, with the grant allocated in 2007.

Campaigners have advocated that local people should be able to make everyday journeys without having to rely on a car or walking along main roads.

John Rogers, county councillor for Watton, said: “Cycling and walking has gone from being difficult and unattractive along busy roads to easy and very attractive along a dedicated path.”

He said the area had waited a long time for the path and emphasised the safety and health benefits of its opening.

He added: “I think this is, by far, the best footpath in the whole of Norfolk.”

The former MP for South-West Norfolk, Baroness Gillian Shephard, officially opened the path in Griston by cutting the ribbon.

She said: “There is so much enthusiasm [here], and lots of local skills used for people to be able to use this cycleway.”

The route runs through the former RAF airfield and is aimed at walkers, cyclists, joggers, or any other non-motorised vehicles.

It is part of a national project, managed by Norfolk County Council, by sustainable transport charity Sustrans, who enable people to travel by foot, bike or public transport.

Sustrans’ regional director for the East Nigel Brigham said: “These new links are going to make a real difference to how people make their everyday journeys in Watton and Griston.

“We hope to work with Norfolk County Council in the future to deliver even more routes like this locally, making it safe to get around on two wheels.”

Watton-born 15-year-old Declan Davis, the national 10-mile cycling champion for his age group, was at the opening.

He said he was pleased about the new route, adding: “I will be using this path and I hope other people will get out on their bikes to keep active too.”

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