Hundreds of cyclists joined an inaugural ride along a new £500,000 path linking Weston-super-Mare and Brean Down on Bank Holiday Monday.

It has taken 20 years of planning but cyclists and walkers can finally enjoy the route, although organisers say the path will not be fully completed until the end of May and will be officially opened in July.

Called the Brean Down Way, it runs for eight miles from Weston Pier to Brean Down Fort and provides walkers and cyclists with a long-awaited route via the Brean Cross Sluice to get over the River Axe.

John Grimshaw, the overall lead from charitable body Greenways And Cycle Routes told “We had lots of interest on Monday and saw over 500 cyclists using the path for the first time with lots of positive feedback. It’s something that a lot of local people have wanted for many years.”

Caroline Levett, who has overseen grant funding applications, says she’s delighted the project has secured funding from several big organisations, including North Somerset Council, Sedgemoor District Council and the government’s Coastal Communities Fund, to enable it to open.

The path will be popular with holidaymakers wanting to travel between Weston and Brean, and also with walkers who want a safe route to enjoy the superb countryside and coastal views.

It starts by the beach in Uphill, although people can also start along Weston’s seafront. It takes users to the National Trust coffee shop in Brean Down and out to the wartime fort.

The work to complete the path is a real community effort, with more than 100 volunteers currently involved in completing the final section of the project in Brean – with some travelling from as far afield as Scotland to join in.

Katy Hallett is overseeing an incredible wooden structure called the ‘Great Bird Wall of Brean’ which is 120 metres long and includes 1,000 plants of larch wood.

Katy, who specialises in public art, told “The wall has been designed to reflect the landscape around it and resembles drift wood washed up on a beach. The design allows the wind through, and gives glimpses of Brean Down behind. It’s here to protect the red shanks because this is an important roosting ground for them.”

Cycling from Birnbeck Pier to the National Trust coffee shop in Brean Down is estimated to take about an hour.