Campaigners slam government for snubbing cyclists over new national trail

Cyclists cold-shouldered over coast to coast trail plans

Image shows Anna Abram competing at the British Gravel Championships at the King's Cup Gravel.
(Image credit: Stefan Abram)

As a cyclist, you'd expect to be included in any plans for a new National Trail, right? 


The government's planned £5.6 million revamp on the popular Wainwright Coast to Coast route in the north of England will be a mix of bridleways and footpaths, as such offering no through route for cyclists — contrary to guidelines.

Cycling UK's head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore criticised the exclusion, saying that while there was much to be celebrated about getting more people outdoors, "what is frustrating is the tunnel vision automatically excluding specific groups like people cycling or horse riding, that is also contrary to government policy on outdoor access.

He added: “If you ride a bike or a horse, you can use only 22% of England’s rights of way network, or ride two out of 16 of our National Trails. We need to do more to increase access, not limit it. The benefits are real for rural hospitality businesses, which will see increased trade from a more diverse group of visitors.”

Cycling UK has teamed up with bridleway compatriots the British Horse Society to write a 'letter before action' to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Rt Hon Ranil Jawawardena MP, calling on the government to reconsider the proposals and avoid legal action.

Cycling UK also says that both itself and the BHS were 'statutory consultees' for teh upgrades, and should have been consulted over the trail upgrades — but that they never heard from Defra or Natural England.

Alfred Wainwright, the famous Lake District walker and author, devised the 197-mile coast to coast route in 1973. It begins at St Bees in Cumbria to the west and journeys to popular Tour of Britain haunt Robin Hood Bay in the North York Moors to the east (it can of course be undertaken in the opposite direction!).

Under Defra's plans it would be upgraded to National Trail status, ready to be opened in 2025. The upgrades will, ironically, include provision to make the trail more accessible, as well as adding new signage, path surfacing, and a long-term commitment to fund trail maintenance.

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After cutting his teeth on local and national newspapers, James began at Cycling Weekly as a sub-editor in 2000 when the current office was literally all fields. 

Eventually becoming chief sub-editor, in 2016 he switched to the job of full-time writer, and covers news, racing and features.

A lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, James's racing days (and most of his fitness) are now behind him. But he still rides regularly, both on the road and on the gravelly stuff.