Bike trail plans step up a gear

Opening of the tunnels on the Monsal Trail, cyclists celebrate the opening of the route
Opening of the tunnels on the Monsal Trail, cyclists celebrate the opening of the route

Plans for a series of planned new bike trails designed to give cyclists easy access to the Peak District have moved a step closer following the announcement of Government funding worth £5million.

The scheme, called Pedal Peak, hopes to put an estimated three-and-a-half million people within reach of the national park’s cycle network - either directly by bike or following a short train journey.

The Department for Transport has said it will give £5m to the project.

Three of Pedal Peak’s four new routes should be well-used by Sheffield cyclists. The 12-mile Little Don Link will run from Beeley Wood in Sheffield to Winscar Reservoir near Penistone, linking with the Transpennine Trail.

Material from recycled tyres would be used to build the new cycle path which is set to follow the route of a disused railway line skirting Langsett and Underbank reservoirs.

Meanwhile the White Peak Loop is planned to run for 11 miles, linking the High Peak Trail and Monsal Trail with two new sections, one between Matlock and Bakewell and another between Buxton and Hurdlow.

Thirdly, the three-mile Little John Route and Hope Valley Link will provide an off-road route between Bamford and Hathersage.

It would bridge the gap between existing cycle routes into Sheffield and Manchester, connecting to the Little John Route between the two cities.

The new routes are the second phase of the Pedal Peak project. Phase one - extending and enhancing the Monsal Trail - was carried out last year. The project involved opening up disused railway tunnels along the Midland Railway Line which closed in 1968.

Tony Favell, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “This is wonderful and exciting news for the Peak District. It is great for family cycling and for walkers too. It gives road cyclists alternative routes and eases traffic congestion. It will boost healthy living for people in Sheffield and at the same time benefit national park residents and rural businesses.

“There is a huge amount of work involved in opening up these four cycle-ways and there will be public consultation on the precise routes.”

Planning applications for the routes are expected to be submitted over the next year and the routes are expected to be completed by 2016.

However, opposition Liberal Democrat councillors have criticised Sheffield Council for not making its own bid for cycling money.

Coun Ian Auckland, Sheffield Liberal Democrat spokesperson for transport, said: “Cyclists I speak to can all reel off a list of suggested improvements so it’s a shame the council didn’t have a single potential scheme waiting in the wings. Labour leaders were caught off-guard and as a result city centre cyclists are losing out.”