Cycling to city moves closer

Thursday 5th February 2009 12:00 am
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AN ambitious project to provide an off-road cycle path between Tavistock and Plymouth has taken a step forward, with the opening of a new section of track.

The project mainly follows the old Great Western Railway track from Plymouth to North Devon.

Creating the cycle path has been a long process involving negotiations with many individual landowners.

But those behind the idea remain optimistic it will eventually be an important resource, providing excellent opportunities for physical exercise and recreation, boosting tourism and even encouraging people to use pedal power instead of their cars.

Graham Cornish, Devon County Council's project officer for the National Cycle Network in Devon, said: 'We've now opened the section from Horrabridge through to Clearbrook and we are hopeful of opening another long length this summer.

'We've been working on it for a long time now and out of the 26-kilometre stretch, there's only about one kilometre left to sort out.'

The Plymouth to Tavistock section of the National Cycle Route 27, between Ilfracombe and Plymouth, is called Drake's Trail. 

Once the section is complete, it will be possible to cycle virtually the entire way from Tavistock to the city off-road.

Mr Cornish said: 'It should be really useful for the people of Tavistock to use for recreational and exercise purposes — and it should generate quite a lot of visitor spending in local businesses.

'At the moment you get a lot of visitors cycling out to have lunch at the pub at Clearbrook, but now the track extends to Yelverton and Horrabridge.

'Within the next few years we'd like to open right through to Tavistock.'

Mr Cornish said £2.5-million has already been set aside for a brand new bridge, to span the Walkham Valley at Grenofen.

The bridge, to be named Gem Bridge after the mine that was once worked in the valley, will provide fabulous views and will save walkers and cyclists a steep climb when crossing the river.

Mr Cornish said: 'We've also been surveying the old railway tunnel at Grenofen, to see what needs doing in there.

'It's looking good, it's certainly feasible to use.'

The 350 metre-long tunnel goes under the A386 at the Halfway House Inn, which is ultimately seen as another good stopping off point for users of the cycle path.

More information about Drake's Trail in West Devon, and the spur routes connected to the main path, can be found at the website http://www.drakesdartmoor.co.uk/drakes_trail.htm">www.drakesdartmoor.co.uk/drakes_trail.htm