THREE popular walking routes in west Oxfordshire have received welcome upgrades – just as the hot weather returns.

The Lower Windrush Valley Project (LWVP) has just completed £2,750 worth of improvements to the Thames Path and short circular walks in Northmoor, plus one past Gill Mill quarry.

The upgrades will make the routes easier to navigate and is aimed at encouraging people to spend more time outdoors as temperatures rise and the coronavirus lockdown is eased.

Liam Walker, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway operation and delivery, urged walkers to take advantage of the changes.

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He said: “Oxfordshire’s countryside is really coming into its own at the moment as more people look for different places to go for exercise and leisure.

“It’s good to know that groups like the LWVP are playing their part in keeping their part of the countryside open and accessible by replacing things like stiles, which can be quite a barrier for some people.

“As we head into a spell of good weather I hope that people continue to enjoy Oxfordshire’s great outdoors, while respecting the peace and quiet of the local communities.”

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Graham Shelton, chairman of Northmoor Parish Council, added that he was ‘delighted’ to welcome more walkers to the area.

The upgrades were carried out earlier this month, just in time for the county to experience temperatures exceeding 30C this week.

The three routes were chosen due to their ease of access, scenery, proximity to local businesses and nature reserves and links with longer distance footpaths like the Windrush Path and Thames Path National Trail.

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They vary in length from 2.5km to 8km, with the Northmoor short circular and Gill Mill circular walks now stile-free after three gates were put in instead.

The project is being supported by Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE), which contributed the largest grant of £2,000.

Grundon Waste Management has also provided funding through the Landfill Communities Fund, with additional support from Thames Path National Trail and the county council’s rights of way improvement budget.