Walkers can now travel in and out of Rowde safely thanks to a new footpath.

The 800-metre path links Marsh Lane to the Caen Hill flight of locks at the Kennet and Avon Canal and to the busy A361 dual carriageway.

Previously people walking to and from the village either walked in the road or on the verge and at peak times were contending with up to 360 cars per hour or one every ten seconds.

Residents called for a footpath following a survey undertaken by the parish council last year.

Funding came from the parish council, Wiltshire and Swindon Access Forum (part of Wiltshire Council) and Viridor Waste Management.

Contributions in kind came from British Waterways which gave land for the footpath and WIltshire Council’s highways department which built two thirds of the path.

Wiltshire Police supported the creation of the footpath for road safety reasons.

The footpath was officially opened on Sunday by those involved with the project.

Neal Bawden, of the footpath steering group on behalf of Rowde Parish Council, co-ordinated the project and said he had received positive feedback from people.

Mr Bawden, who lives in Rowde is a part time lock keeper at the Caen Hill flight.

He said: “ People are saying it is wonderful and long overdue.

“Instead of taking 25 minutes to walk along Marsh Lane it now takes 12 minutes and is much more pleasant to walk because they haven’t got to take their life in their hands by walking on the road and jumping into the verge when a car passes by.”

He said the footpath was used by residents walking their dogs, joggers, schoolchildren and shoppers to catch buses on the A361 and canal boaters who want to walk into Rowde to the shop or pubs.

Mark Stephens, waterway manager at British Waterways, said: “Creating safe access to the Kennet and Avon Canal, in particular the popular Caen Hill flight of locks, the towpath and footpaths that surround this scheduled ancient monument, is a sensible and welcome scheme.

“The team here at British Waterways was keen to make sure a safe solution to the access problems could be sorted out.

“The new path now means that our boating customers can safely walk to Rowde, its pubs and new village shop, while villagers and visitors can come and enjoy the fantastic sight of the Caen Hill flight.”

The final works to the path will be completed by the end of December and involve the creation of a pedestrian crossing over Marsh Lane lock. It will avoid the need to cross the narrow hump-backed bridge.