A new £2.2 million section of traffic-free cycle route between Exmouth and Lympstone, part of Devon’s Exe Estuary Trail, is due to open on 29 February. Local businesses are already feeling the tourism benefit of existing sections of the trail.
Although only two miles long, the well-surfaced, high quality route is in the heart of a very popular tourist area and is expected to draw many cycling holidaymakers and day-trippers there to sample the ready-made, easy-going pedal between the seaside charms of Exmouth and Lympstone’s harbourside setting.
It’s also another significant step towards what will eventually be a largely traffic-free route right around the Exe estuary. It will form part of National Cycle Network Route 2 across the south coast of England.
Sections of the Exe Estuary Trail are already in place around the northern end of the estuary, to the south of Exeter (itself a cycling demonstration town). There are also links from current sections of the trail into Exeter centre, along the ship canal, and a 5 mile largely traffic-free link between Exmouth and the attractive and popular fishing village and holiday resort of Budleigh Salterton.
While some Lympstone locals voiced concern about bike conflict with pedestrians and cars in an online BBC video report, Lympstone councillor Miles Freeman commented the village was “really enjoying the extra business,” again underlining the huge tourist potential of the route.
Zsolt Schuller, Cycle Exeter project manager, stressed the commuting importance of estuaryside routes. “The Exe Estuary Trail has the potential to put 80,000 commuters within traffic-free cycling distance of Exeter,” he told BikeRadar.
Schuller sees this route as a key part of the efforts being made to “put Exeter on a par with European towns and cities where cycling has been intensively invested in and promoted over the past twenty years.”
As an immediate benefit children from Lympstone will be able to cycle to secondary school in Exmouth, avoiding what was previously the only other route, an A-road carrying 20,000 vehicles a day.
The Exe Estuary cycle route has a total budget of £11.5 million and is on course to be completed over the next three years. The final route promises to be a classic, linking attractions such as Powderham Castle, ancestral home of the Earls of Devon, pretty Topsham village, Brunel’s railway project powered by atmospheric pressure and genteel Dawlish – with plenty of attractive estuary scenery thrown in along the way.
There will be a celebratory fun day on the trail on the Saturday morning (1 March) after the official opening featuring Andrei Burton, Devon’s stunt riding cycling ambassador, a cycling circus and the Limpstone band.