MORE people out cycling and walking during lockdown have boosted a six-year campaign to turn a disused railway line into a dedicated Wye Valley path by taking the petition past the 7,000 mark.
Plans were submitted last year to develop a 3.4km section of the former ‘Wye Valley Greenway’ for public use from Tidenham’s National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC) to the Forestry Commission tracks at Tintern Quarry.
The section will run along the former Wye Valley Railway through the 143-year-old Tidenham Tunnel, which was still being used by trains up to 1981 to serve the nearby quarry.
And another application to extend the path from Bishton Lane and the NDAC to Wye Dean School in Sedbury is also now being considered by Forest planners, while Barrett Homes have confirmed that a new Wye Link Bridge crossing from the Mabey housing development in Chepstow is under consideration, which could link the scheme with the Wales Coastal Path.
Jennifer Goslin launched the petition to persuade planners to embrace the scheme in 2014, saying: “All over the UK county after county’s citizens have been benefiting from these valuable resources for leisure and transport purposes.
“Why are we waiting and consistently fobbed off with trivial excuses all the time?
“There are no cycle paths through Chepstow while everywhere else benefits.
“This path would enable less able bodied people to access the beauty of the Wye Valley, it would provide business and opportunities locally, and hold these opportunities within Chepstow and surrounding villages where presently people go further afield for leisure facilities.”
And another milestone in the campaign was reached as the petition hit the 7,000 mark last week, just as the UK Government announced a £2 bn package to create a new era for cycling and walking.
NDAC owner Darren Bryce, who is one of the main people behind the shared path scheme, said last year: “The proposed path will create a significant extension to the visitor experience based on NDAC and provide a local resource for walking and cycling.
“The works proposed will be low key in nature with a view to making a stone dust path similar to the existing trails in the Forest of Dean.
“The works will be carefully carried out under the supervision of the project’s ecologist and bat specialist so that the Wye Valley Greenway can become a valued component of the outstanding landscape and woodlands in this area.
“Once completed, the NDAC will manage and maintain the works, including the section through the long Tidenham Tunnel, and will look to an eventual second stage through to Sedbury and the centre of Chepstow.
“Tidenham Tunnel is the centrepiece of the Wye Valley Greenway. It provides for a direct, almost level and traffic free route in an otherwise very hilly and daunting area.”
While the tunnel was last used in 1981, stone trains continued to serve Dayhouse Quarry - today’s NDAC – until 1992.
As well, as the tunnel and NDAC, path users will be able to take in Bishton Lane Bridge and Netherhope Arch, Tintern Quarry, Netherhope Halt and the earlier Tidenham Station.
For more information see AtoBconnectingcommunities’ Facebook page and greenwaysandcycleroutes.org/wye-valley-greenway/
To sign the petition, go to 38 Degrees and search for ‘Restoring the disused railway line from Chepstow to Tintern for a shared use path’.