The Project, “Ride the Ruby Country” was a three year project representing a new way of developing recreational trails, extending beyond the physical creation, to also include working with local communities and businesses to prepare them for the opportunities which would arise as a by product of the newly created infrastructure.
The main aims of the project were:
- To create, improve and promote new and enhanced equestrian and multi-use tourism and recreational trails within Ruby Country as a basis to develop new activity-based and sustainable tourism markets
- To encourage and assist local businesses and communities to prepare and gear up for the economic and recreational opportunities that might arise
There were 2 main players in this project; Devon County Council and Ruby Country Partnership Ltd..
Network creation and improvement
- All physical works, including negotiating with land owners and purchasing land was the role of Devon County Council’s Public Rights of Way team, using the Rights of Way Improvement Plan as a lead document.
- Investment were made through Devon County Council’s “Equestrian Devon” project funded by “Investing in Devon” using money raised through the sale of Exeter airport.
- Routes included a long distance multi-use trail “Pegasus Way” linking Cookworthy Forest to Granite Way and to the free riding areas of Dartmoor. The heart of Ruby Country will be linked to other popular destinations further afield, via the Ruby Way, Granite Way and Tarka Trail.
- Circular and other linking routes have been established and promoted based upon existing bridleways and quiet lanes.
- This new and extended network will encourage users to spend more time exploring Ruby Country on horse back, in a more planned manner, even as part of an extended trek type holiday.
Ruby Country Partnership
- Through the preparation of a project bid the Ruby Country Partnership Ltd secured funding from Leader4 Torridge and North Devon, Greater Dartmoor LEAF, Devon County Council, Torridge District Council and West Devon Borough Council.
- The role of the Partnership, through the work of the Project Coordinator was to undertake a wide variety of tasks, aimed at promoting a more stable socio-economic future for Ruby Country, particularly along the routes of the new Pegasus Way and the Ruby Way.
The “Ride the Ruby Country” Project Coordinator undertook to:
- Consult with 20 parish communities in the project area, adjacent to the new Pegasus Way and the developing Ruby Way
- Encourage, discuss, investigate and help implement community enterprise opportunities, for example horse box parking opportunities in strategic locations.
- Attendance at community events and promote the use of community facilities for project specific events.
- Development of community pages on the project website.
- Encourage and support the development of new equestrian and sustainable tourism businesses.
- Communicate emerging opportunities to all businesses in Ruby Country, but particularly those in the 20 parish communities outlined in the bid.
- Develop the web of goods and service providers throughout Ruby Country to maximise potential to all and as a process reduce distances goods and services travel from source to point of distribution.
- Arranging and promoting training/workshop opportunities for many people in Ruby Country.
- Develop a downloadable directory of businesses relevant to “Ride the Ruby Country”.
Marketing and publicity
- All project publicity using all available media, including promoting the new trails as they were developed and launched.
- Collate and distribute local information to those in Ruby Country and potential visitors further a field, including routes of rides with the location of features and services included.
- Website development to include local community and business information, equestrian and multi-use trail tourism opportunities, trail route maps and descriptions, newsletters and a calendar of events.
- Develop a dedicated project newsletter “Ruby Ride” available primarily from the website.
- Develop leaflets and guides in hard copy and downloadable formats.
- Links to other organisations to maximise marketing potential.
- High value, relevant events, with maximum appeal to a wide audience in line with “Ride the Ruby Country” objectives.
Impacts of the project included:
- New tourism infrastructure
- Increased visitor and community access to the natural, built and cultural environment
- Increased visitor spend within local communities and increased and supported business opportunities
- Greater spread of visits outside of the main tourism season
- Active community involvement in researching environmental, heritage and community assets of the area as a reason to explore and linger
- Increased links and joint working between communities and businesses
- Increased healthy exercise opportunities
- Reduced car usage in visiting and experiencing Ruby Country
- New community enterprise opportunities
- Increased business engagement with Ruby Country by becoming partners
- Helping to make Devon the “destination of choice” for equestrian tourism (and sustainable activity based tourism)
This 3 year project ended in July 2013
The Equestrian Devon Project (PDF Download)
Equestrian Devon Project Ruby Country overview map (Word doc)