Heathland is restored on roads’s once-busy route

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Nature is being helped to reclaim the old A3 near Hindhead where the busy London to Portsmouth road once ran.

Schoolchildren from the area, including Camelsdale pupils, joined Dame Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the National Trust, in sowing heather seeds across the former route of the road at the Devil’s Punch Bowl, from where the roar of traffic has now transferred to the Hindhead Tunnel.

More than 200 people turned out to see the official opening of the new pathway at the Punch Bowl which follows the line of the old road.

The schoolchildren who were at the ceremony have also been involved in a project to create a sculpture that will be placed outside the National Trust cafe at the site.

Artist Diarmuid Byron O’Connor has been helping them look into concepts and ideas that could influence them with their sculpture.

Eliza Caie, a teacher from Camelsdale School, said: “Diarmuid has been great with the kids and came in every week to help them. He has great ideas and the children are so excited about it.”

A range of dignitaries were there came out to see the new path opened, including the mayors of Hindhead and Haslemere.

David Kennington, the National Trust’s general manager of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, said: “It’s taken us a long time to get to this point, but now we’re here all the hard work has paid off.

“The old A3 has now been re-dug and covered in soil and on top of that is a white cladding to ensure none of the soil slips.

“It is the hope of us all that eventually the old A3 will slip into the surroundings of the rest of the common.”

The project, which included the completion of the Hindhead Tunnel in July, is now in its final stage which will see the National Trust embark on one of the largest heathland restoration projects in the south.