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Oakham Canal Green Corridor Project aims to upgrade footpaths and protect environment

A new charity has been set up by a team of determined volunteers to protect and improve the environment around the old Oakham Canal.

The Oakham Canal opened in 1797, but closed just 50 years later after being sold to the Midland Railway Company.Winding through the Rutland countryside to join the Melton Mowbray navigation, the original course of the canal is still visible today, with many sections remaining in water.

Now the Oakham Canal Green Corridor Project has been set up to upgrade footpaths, provide better access and manage the environment along a 2.5 mile route.

Oakham Canal
Oakham Canal

Project manager Paul Dadford said: “The Oakham Canal is a vital part of our local heritage, and provides a number of diverse habitats in a very small area.

“Lots of people use the area but have had to watch much of it deteriorate through neglect and a lack of coordinated action to maintain it. Our friends at the Oakham Angling Society have worked hard to look after one small section, but much more needs to be done.

“Establishing a new green corridor will be a positive move for wildlife, local people and visitors alike.”

Local environmental consultancy Ecology Resources are already on board, providing wildlife monitoring and site surveys.

“There has never been more need for open, green community spaces,” said Paul.

“The canal is a place for people to safely meet and walk and spend time together, promoting health and wellbeing.”

The canal originally began in the heart of Oakham. The former canal basin now forms part of the grounds of Oakham School and pupils have shown their support by designing the charity’s logo and putting together marketing and fundraising plans. Although there is no public access at the school, the canal route can be picked up from the nearby Springfield Estate, and followed as far as Oakham Enterprise Park - the focus of the new green corridor.

“We are working with local landowners and Rutland County Council to see if we can formalise some of the unofficial routes that have developed over many years, and we are also looking at how we can actively manage the environment in various sections,” said Paul.

“This has such great potential for the people of Rutland – a wildlife corridor around one of our most beautiful and important heritage assets.”

Find out more at www.oakhamcanal.org

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