New trail could boost tourism and leisure cycling in the Looe Valley:
A new study will look at the feasibility of developing a cycle trail between Liskeard and Looe primarily following the route of the river and railway line along the East Looe Valley. The proposed Trail could open up the possibility of round trips between Liskeard and Looe using a combination of cycling and the increasingly popular Branch Line trains.
Led by Looe Development Trust and due to report in March 2017, the study will identify options for the Trail route using a combination of quiet lanes and dedicated tracks. Possible new off-road sections of the route will be investigated and costed, with the route designed to enable users to access some of the area’s rich industrial heritage, telling the story of how communities in the valley developed as the former canal and the railway connected the mining area at Caradon Hill with the port of Looe. The natural environment will be a key feature of the route, with the possibility of opening up new access to the wooded valley and stunning tidal estuary between Sandplace and Looe.
The Trust is also seeking funding for a further phase of the study to look at an extension to the route to connect Looe via the West Looe valley with the cycle trails at Lanhydrock, giving access to the Camel Trail and a complete link from the south to north coast.
Funding for the study has been secured from the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group which is responsible for the delivery of the EU LEADER elements of DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme, and from Cornwall Council, Liskeard Town Council, the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and Liskeard Town Forum. The project is also supported by local Councillors, South East Cornwall Tourism Association and the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership. The study team includes environmental, heritage and engineering expertise and is being advised by Sustrans, the leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.
Cornwall Councillor for West Looe, Lansallos and Lanteglos Edwina Hannaford has been instrumental in securing Cornwall Council support for the project and is a member of the Steering Group. Cllr Hannaford said: “The economic potential of cycle trails are very clear, not just for the obvious tourism businesses but also new opportunities for cycle hire businesses which could spring up in Liskeard and Looe. There’s a very active group of local cyclists in this area and I have been out with them in wellies and waterproofs to investigate sections of the West Looe route and talk to some local landowners. I was delighted to be able to connect this with the proposals along the Looe Valley Line and am looking forward to seeing what this feasibility study comes up with.”
Liskeard Mayor and local café owner Jane Pascoe said: “The Trail is one of several proposed developments for Liskeard which are highlighted in the Neighbourhood Plan. It could do for Liskeard what the Camel Trail has done for Wadebridge, bringing many new visitors to the area and helping to revitalise shops and cafes in the town centre.”
Kim Spencer, Chair of the South and East Cornwall Local Action Group added: “LEADER funding is designed to help local areas stimulate increased levels of economic development activity. This project has been supported under our rural tourism strand as it has the long term potential to develop a high quality visitor product that links tourism providers, extends the tourism season and encourages visitors to stay in the Looe area. “
Dr Sue Brownlow, Ross Fisher, Edwina Hannaford, Armand Toms, Justin Spreckley, Lorna Shrubsole, Deborah Boden.
Dr Sue Brownlow, Looe Development Trust’s Project Manager for the feasibility study explained: “The project team will be spending the next few weeks poring over maps and talking to landowners and local interest groups to see what route options are available. We plan to hold public consultations in Liskeard and Looe before the end of the year, so that we can hear from local people what they think about the Trail idea and how they would like it to develop in the future. This is not the first time the idea for a Looe Valley Trail has been suggested, and we know there are a lot of people in the area who are keen to see it come to fruition and who have lots of good ideas and information to share.”
This project is supported by: