A £4.4m boost for Dartmoor cycling routes
AMBITIOUS plans to improve cycling routes across Dartmoor have been backed with a £4.4million grant from the Government.
The project, led by Devon County Council and Dartmoor National Park, will open up access to the moor by improving and completing a number of trails.
It will also create "cycling hub" sites at Princetown and Moretonhampstead, which will provide dedicated facilities for visitors.
The aim is to encourage visitors to explore more of the routes along existing disused railway track beds and canal tow paths, and extend their stay in the area.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Councillor for highways, said: "This scheme will enable us to deliver family-friendly, multi-use routes which will improve traffic-free access to Dartmoor. By investing in high-quality off-road facilities, all visitors and local communities will benefit as well as cyclists.
"Not only does this Government recognition re-affirm our commitment to making Devon a premier destination for cycling, but this scheme also improves safety for cyclists and will hopefully inspire people to cycle more regularly for their everyday journeys."
The national park currently receives around 2.4 million visitors a year, with 600,000 cycle trips being made annually.
The new scheme, funded by the Department for Transport, is expected to encourage more people to cycle to the moor, with up to 43% increase in cycling between 2015 and 2018. It is hoped that will bring in an extra £6 million to the local economy and create 100 new jobs.
The scheme includes upgrading existing routes on Dartmoor, developing a route from Exeter to Dartmoor via Haldon Forest Park, and the completion of the Wray Valley Trail with the development of a bridge over the A38 to establish a viable commuting and leisure route between Newton Abbot and Bovey Tracey. The Granite Way will also be upgraded to fill in any remaining gaps.
Bill Hitchins, chairman of Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: "We are delighted to receive this funding from the Linking Communities Fund to develop cycling in the national park. Cycling is an increasingly popular activity within and around the national park, both for visitors and local communities."