By Nick Walmsley, Programme Manager
(in Volume 26)
Over the last few years there has been a renaissance in cycling and more people than ever are discovering the delights of two wheels as a way of getting to, and exploring, National Trust properties.
People’s wellbeing is at the heart of our founders’ purpose for the Trust, and the aim of the cycle trails programme is to get people who wouldn’t describe themselves as cyclists out into the fresh air, being active and enjoying a fresh perspective on our special places. After all, many of our mansions have landscaped parkland that was purposely designed to entice visitors to strategic points so they would admire the spectacular views back to the house itself.
The ‘Cycle Trails Programme’ consists of eleven projects and falls within the wider strategy objective we have around Land, Outdoors and Nature. This is where we’re taking a holistic look at our outdoors ambitions, standards, and offers. Cycling however is not a new venture for the Trust, as we already have trails at several properties, such as Clumber Park and Lanhydrock. The programme seeks to build on these successes and place cycling firmly at the heart of our outdoors visitor experience.
Each project will be creating all-weather surface trails through park- land and estates and be based around existing visitor facilities that provide parking, toilets and catering facilities. While cycling is the hook, most will ultimately be multi-purpose trails for buggies, wheelchairs, runners – whatever people want to use them for.
We will have 11 sites at:
- Badbury Hill, Oxfordshire
- Blickling Estate, Norfolk
- Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
- Croome, Worcestershire
- Ickworth, Suffolk
- Kingston Lacy, Dorset
- Nostell Priory and Parkland, Yorkshire
- Osterley Park and House, London
- Saltram, Devon
- Wallington, Northumberland
- Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
Developing these 11 cycle trails will deliver a number of benefits:
- Increases the number of trails that provide a safe environment for leisure cycling all year round.
- Increases public access to explore parklands and woodlands found beyond walking distance.
- Provides more reasons to visit our properties and more to do when you are there.
- The trails are mostly multi-use, meaning there is access to all, including adapted wheelchair users.
We are working in partnership with Sport England and British Cycling to deliver the programme. The main part of the programme is costing a total of £4.2m and of which Sport England is contributing £2m. The Badbury Hill site is being developed in conjunction with British Cycling and will cost a further £500,000 of which British Cycling are contributing £250,000.
There are three key steps to building our trails:
- Agree the route – looking at local sensitivities such as wildlife and conservation areas.
- Get planning approval – each property will need to apply for planning permission and consult stakeholders locally
- Build – we expect to start the first build in the winter of 2105 and the last to be completed for summer 2017.
We expect that over the next few years over half a million visits will be made to these trails per annum introducing many more people to the pleasures of getting to, and exploring our properties and the wider countryside on two wheels.
For further information contact the Programme Manager, Nick Walmsley, at Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN2 2NA