A new route is being developed that will make a Hampshire town one of the gateways to the South Downs National Park.

The trail, centred on Alton, is called ‘The Writers’ Way’,.

It is a joint project between Hampshire County Council, South Downs National Park Authority and East Hampshire District Council and should be fully open by May 2016.

The Writers’ Way route will link Gilbert White’s House in Selborne, Jane Austen’s former home of Chawton and parts of Hampshire that William Cobbett describes in his book ‘Rural Rides’.

It will be a 20 mile circular accessible route for cyclists, walkers and horse riders that connects Alton station with the villages of Selborne, Farringdon, Worldham and Four Marks.

A further spur linking Farringdon with Chawton and Alton is also being planned.

The planned ‘Writers’ Way’ will follow existing public rights of way and small, quiet country lanes enabling the trail to be used all year round.

Councillor Keith Chapman, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, said: “The Writers’ Way route aims to link tourist attractions, including the Watercress steam railway line, with Alton Station and create sustainable transport links.

"Funded through the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, it will help people access this part of the South Downs National Park from Alton, making the town one of the gateways to the National park.

"We want to unlock all the economic potential that brings, by encouraging visitors and equally providing access to local people to areas of education and employment.”

The total cost of the project is £131,220.

Works to improve bridleways have already been completed in Farringdon. Other improvements will be undertaken on rights of way in Chawton, Selborne, Worldham and Four Marks, as well as work to establish a Chawton spur along the route.

Part of the Writers' Way will use new walking and cycling links that are being planned for Alton town centre. This will include improvements to create a safe and attractive route between the station and the High Street. Further information on these works will be available at a public exhibition in the autumn this year.