Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has announced the completion of the Comber Greenway.
The route for cyclists and walkers follows the former Belfast-to-Comber railway line in Northern Ireland.
It is still under somewhat of a shadow because of proposals to tear up five miles of the path to build a rapid bus network.
But the plans have yet to be approved, and in the meantime thousands of walkers and cyclists will be able to enjoy seven miles of traffic-free tranquillity.
Making up Route 99 on the National Cycle Network, the green corridor links Dee Street in the heart of east Belfast with the town of Comber, via the suburb of Dundonald.
It also connects with the Strangford Lough Cycle Trail, an 82-mile circuit on quiet country roads due to be completed later this month.
Sustrans’ director for Northern Ireland, Steven Patterson, said: “The Comber Greenway is already phenomenally popular with local people and the completion of the final stretch through the countryside to Comber adds to the feeling of rural escape from urban bustle.
“The completed Greenway gives the 150,000 people living in its vicinity an attractive and safer route for walking and cycling than the busy nearby road.”
The Department of Regional Development is still looking into using five miles of the greenway from the Holywood Arches to Dundonald as a £147m rapid bus network.
Sustrans spokeswoman Gill Harrison said: “It’s still an idea on the table but but it hasn’t been finalised. The idea is to get more people using the path so we can demonstrate what a fantastic location it is for walking and cycling. We want to show that the route really works.”
The Comber Greenway has taken two years to develop, at a cost of £1 million. Care has been taken to preserve conservation sites along the path, such as the River Enler and areas of woodland and wetland, and more than 1,000 trees have been planted.
The project has been supported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development through the EU Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity administered via Sustrans. It is a partnership between Roads Service, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Armagh and Down Tourism Partnership, Ards Borough Council, Castlereagh Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Better Belfast and the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure.
A leaflet and route map showing access points can be downloaded from www.combergreenway.org.uk.