Traffic-free routes through UK beauty spots now open

New routes in Wales and Yorkshire

Celebrations mark completion of Clydach Gorge walking and cycling route. Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones AM (R) beside plaque to commemorate the opening of the stunning new Clydach Gorge walking and cycling route to mark its transformation from a disused railway line. (Thursday 13 November) . Also, braving the weather is Lee Waters, Director of Sustrans Wales (centre), local people & children from Govilon Primary School.

Two new traffic-free sections of the National Cycle Network, one in Wales and one in Yorkshire, are now open for use and both pass through renowned local beauty spots.


The Clydach Gorge walking and cycling route was constructed along the formerly disused Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny railway for eight miles between Llanfoist and Brynmawr, and passes through the Clydach Gorge Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Completed over two decades, it now marks the beginning of the Heads of Valleys route from Abergavenny and Neath. It is also a first important stage forms in the creation of the forthcoming Valleys Cycle Network, which National Cycle Netork founders Sustrans will create over the next five years, along with local authorities.

Gwyn Smith, South East Wales Area Manager for Sustrans Cymru, said: “It (the Cydach Gorge route) provides both a leisurely ride into the top of the Valleys and connects small towns at lower levels, creating a viable alternative to busy trunk roads for everyday journeys.

Meanwhile, up in West Yorkshire, the iconic Thornton Viaduct will re-open for the first time in nearly half a century on 21st November.

It represents the latest opening along the Great Northern Railway Trail and is, to date, the most picturesque section of the traffic-free route that will link six communities from Cullingworth to Queensbury in west Bradford. Opening festivities will be lead by Alan Whitaker, son of the stationmaster at the former Thornton Station.

Although the newly opened section is only one kilometre of the trail, it took four months to construct, with the entire six-mile project expected to finish by 2011. There are now three viaducts and three miles of route open to cyclists, walkers and horse riders offering a new perspective of the rolling hills and old mill towns of west Bradford

David Hall, Sustrans’ Yorkshire Regional Director, said:


“The local landscape at Thornton is quite outstanding. Many people who travel regularly on Thornton Road will have no idea of the dramatic views across Clayton Valley, soon to be uniquely accessible to people for a bike ride along the railway trail.”