New 800-mile trail launched for cyclists and walkers to promote access to the countryside
Date published: 05 September 2019
Photo: Joolze Dymond
Heather Walker and Liam Spencer riding along the Pennine Bridleway, part of Cycling UK's off-road LEJOG route, at Walsden Moor near Todmorden
A new ready-to-ride long distance trail linking the Peak District to Scotland’s most northerly mainland points has been launched for the first time by Cycling UK.
The Great North Trail, which runs for 800 miles, has been created to answer a demand from cyclists for greater access to the countryside on routes largely away from traffic.
Around 98 per cent of the Great North Trail is on bridleways, byways, cycle routes, unpaved roads and very low traffic minor roads.
It uses some existing established trails, such as the Pennine Bridleway and Cross Borders Drove Road, but extensive research has been carried out to link these through a network of trails, forest roads and abandoned railway lines.
Locally, the route passes through Summit from Walsden, Littleborough, Hollingworth Lake and Ogden then onto Oldham.
Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns, said: “We know that around a quarter of people who use the National Trails do so on bikes, yet only two of the 15 National Trails in England and Wales are fully open for cycling.
“We’ve created the Great North Trail because we recognised very little has been done to promote national off-road trails. For example, plans to extend the Pennine Bridleway to Scotland were published 20 years ago, but still haven’t been implemented.
“And yet we know there is an appetite for more cycling access to the countryside. Off-road trails can be ideal for families to ride safely, away from traffic and city pollution.”
The development of the route is part of Cycling UK’s on-going work to open up more of the countryside to cyclists, which could have enormous health and economic benefits.
For example, the average total spend for off-road cycling and mountain biking visits to the countryside has been recorded as high as £15.71 per person, compared with £8.68 per person walking.
Also, according to Cycling UK’s 2015 off-road survey, Rides of Way, 91% of respondents said riding was important to their mental health.
The Great North Trail is part of Cycling UK’s wider ambition to connect the National and Great Trails of England, Wales and Scotland.
The route is available to view online on the Cycling UK website, where you can find an extensive route guide and downloadable route files (GPX) (www.cyclinguk.org), and also on the Ordnance Survey’s online service: (osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk).
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