A new money-raising scheme is being launched to help pay for maintenance costs to the South Downs Way.
The South Downs National Park Authority is hoping that people who use the park will donate at least £1 whenever they visit.
Andy Gattiker, South Downs Way manager, said: “We have around 15 thousand pairs of boots, ten thousand tyres and eight hundred hooves travelling the length of the trail each year. That’s a lot of wear and tear.
“We’re so proud that it’s not just one of the best known trails in the country but that people use their experience of it to raise tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds each year for causes ranging from reducing international poverty to beating heart disease or supporting their local hospice.
“We work hard to keep the South Downs Way in good condition and have lots of ideas for projects to improve it – for example, we’d love to install more location specific signposts, put in more drinking water taps and manage more path verges for wildflowers. If everyone who used the trail gave just £1 we could be even more ambitious.”
More than 20,000 long-distance walkers, cyclists and riders complete the 160km South Downs Way every year and many more will explore a section of it.
The South Downs Way is one of England and Wales which are all free to use and managed to high standards. Now trail managers in both countries are hoping that the new donation scheme will help them generate support to make the trails even better.
They say donations of any size are welcome and that 80 per cent of the money received will be used to directly fund improvements to the trail. The remaining 20 per cent will be used to support the trail website, where around 140,000 people go every year to find information on how to access the trail, how to break it up into sections, where to stay and more. The website is not publicly funded.
To make a donation towards the South Downs Way visit www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way/donate