The Mayor of Marlborough has asked for a link from the estates in the north of the town allowing access onto the old railway path that provides an off-road route to Swindon as part of the National Cycle Network.

The route along the track of the former Swindon Marlborough and Andover Railway (SMAR), last used by trains in the mid-Sixties, has been a popular leisure path since 1988 when ecological transport group Sustrans was given consent by Wiltshire Council, who assumed ownership of the route from British Rail, to create a path.

Since then the path, which is maintained by volunteers, has become well used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders, especially families from Marlborough who can follow the well-defined path over the River Kennet and northwards through the picturesque valley of the River Og.

Last Wednesday the committee which maintains the path, calling themselves the Friends of the Railway Path, held a public meeting in Chiseldon to hear the views of ramblers and riders.

Friends chairman Dick Millard said about 26 people met in Chiseldon village hall, including representatives from the British Driving Association who want to use the path for horse-drawn vehicles, and Mayor Alexander Kirk Wilson .

Mr Millard said: “The main issues that were raised included the need for better signage as few realise the Marlborough-Chiseldon rail path is part of the National Cycle Network’s Route 45.

“We learned that we need to make it more accessible for people who want to access the path from the downs it passes through.”

As the path went through some historic areas there had been a request for interpretive panels along the route explaining the history, including details of the former army camps at Ogbourne St George and Chiseldon through which many thousands of soldiers passed during World War II.

Coun Kirk Wilson asked the Friends to consider how a link could be created from the estates in the north of Marlborough to the path, possibly using the bridge by the remains of the dam at the medieval fish ponds at Poulton.

The mayor told the Gazette: “I suggested it would be good if the Friends could consider a possible access from the estates (Portfields) crossing the Og by the Thames Water gauging station to give access to the rail path.”