On Tuesday 8th September, work began to create a new cycleway along the Solway Coast. Work on the scheme is being carried out by the Eric Wright Civil Engineering following a tender process earlier this year and it is hoped the track will be complete by the end of the current financial year.
The Solway Coaster Project
The ‘Solway Coaster’ project will see a 14.1km route between Allonby and Silloth created and join onto the already successful cycleway from Maryport to Allonby. The link between the coastal towns will form part of the National Cycle Network Route 72 (Hadrian’s Cycleway), which runs from Ravenglass, Cumbria, to South Shields in Tyne and Wear.
Allerdale Borough Council has taken the lead on delivering the project on behalf of the Silloth-on-Solway Coastal Community Team (CCT), a mix of public, private and community partners. The project has been supported by professional services firm WYG who are acting as contract managers for the Council, assisting with design, ecological surveys, planning applications and common land applications.
To fund the project the CCT secured £1m from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Coastal Communities Fund and a further £250,000 from DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The path is aimed predominantly at cyclists, but the off-road sections will be multi-functional and accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. A total of 4.63km of the new route will be ‘off road’ and 9.47km ‘on road’. The ‘on road’ sections of the route will utilise the existing carriageway and will include appropriate signage, markings and line painting.
Cllr John Cook, Allerdale’s Executive member for leisure and tourism, said: “Cycling has always been a popular activity in this part of the world with people coming from far and wide to sample what we have to offer. But now more than ever as people are increasingly looking to get active outdoors in plenty of space, areas like Allerdale are well-placed to cater for these types of visitors.
“When complete this cycleway will be a great addition to our already fantastic offer in Allerdale and I can’t wait to have a go on it myself.”
Diane Bourne, managing director at Eric Wright Civil Engineering, said: “Due to the pandemic, many local authorities are increasingly looking at ways to improve their cycling and pathway infrastructure. We are pleased to play a key role in providing a high-quality cycleway which will enable more and more people to actively enjoy this picturesque part of the world.”
Brian Irving, chair of the CCT, said: “It’s great to see this project finally get underway after a lot of hard work from everyone involved. This cycleway will be a brilliant asset to the community and help to attract visitors to this amazing corner of Cumbria.”
Some of the funding will also be used to resurface the existing section of the path between Maryport and Allonby, improving the experience for cyclists and making the path more accessible for those using wheelchairs and pushchairs.
Once delivered the project will help deliver on the objectives set out in the 10-year Council Strategy of creating ‘Thriving Towns and Villages’ with improved infrastructure that will benefit local residents and increase tourism, and ‘A Cleaner, Greener Allerdale’ by encouraging more journeys to be undertaken by bike and by foot.
Sandy Kapila, head of external affairs at the Rural Payments Agency, who are administering the RDPE fund, said: “One of the key outcomes the RPA wants to achieve through the delivery of the Rural Development for England Programme is to promote rural tourism.
“The proposal submitted by Allerdale Borough Council is a fine example of how we are jointly investing in our existing infrastructure to encourage people to visit and explore a beautiful part of the country. I’m pleased that work has commenced and look forward to seeing the work progress.”
From L to R: Anna Pollard (Solway Coast AONB), Dr Nick Bunn (WYG), Bob Boardman (Eric Wright Civil Engineering Site Agent), Joe Broomfield (Tourism Development Manager at Allerdale), Cllr John Cook (Executive member for tourism at Allerdale) and Bill James (member of coastal community team)