A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to mark the long-awaited opening of a new cycle route between Weston and Brean on Friday (July 7th).
The new Brean Down Way stretches for eight miles from Weston Pier to Brean Down Fort and provides walkers and cyclists with a route over the River Axe for the first time via the Brean Cross Sluice, which is now fully open.
The route was officially opened with a ribbon cutting by the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Annie Maw, pictured above, with Cllr Elfan Ap Rees of North Somerset Council, alongside Burnham’s MP James Heappey, Sedgemoor District Council Chairman Mike Cresswell, and Cllr Andy Brewer who is Burnham’s Second Deputy Mayor.
“It means cyclists can now bypass the long, busy and often hazardous Accommodation Road,” said Cllr Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset Council’s executive member for highways and transport.
“In addition, the route is intended to increase tourism in the region by allowing easy access between the two resorts of Weston and Brean. That has been a long-awaited link for many residents and tourists to the two destinations.”
“The route also forms part of the long-distance National Cycle Route 33, which will eventually connect Bristol and Dorset.”
Local groups who have supported the project include North Somerset Council, the charity Greenways and Cycleroutes, the Environment Agency, Wessex Water, Natural England, Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council and their contractors, Brean Parish Council, the National Trust and landowners.
A recent Greenways and Cycleroutes volunteer work camp built the field section of the path and the ‘Great Bird Screen of Brean’ and a previous work camp built the 900-metre section approaching the sluice on the North Somerset side. The screen protects birdlife roosting grounds on the mudflats at Brean from cyclists and walkers who might disturb them.
In May, the final leg from the sluice to the beach at Brean was completed in partnership with Somerset County Council and their contractors Draytons.
The final set of work has seen the installation of safety and security fencing on the sluice. Other works are being carried out by the Environment Agency to replace the sluice gates ahead of the opening. These works have been brought forward a year to prevent the new path from being closed again in the future.
John Grimshaw, the overall project lead, from charitable body Greenways And Cycle Routes told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “It’s great that this path is being unveiled – it’s something that a lot of local people have wanted for many years.”
He revealed that he hopes to extend the cycle path to Clevedon in the future.
The total cost of the sluice works was £50,000 – of which North Somerset Council is paying £25,000 – while works were also undertaken by Kingcombe Aquacare.
North Somerset Council has funded the project on the north side of the sluice with £329,000 from the Local Growth Fund and Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
Funding for the south side of the sluice works totalled £250,000 and was obtained through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Hinkley Point Community Impact Mitigation Fund and the Coastal Communities Fund.
The path will be used by holidaymakers wanting to travel between Weston and Brean, and by walkers who want a safe route to enjoy the superb countryside and coastal views around Brean and Uphill.
It starts by the beach in Uphill, although people can easily start along Weston’s seafront. It will take you to the National Trust coffee shop in Brean Down and out to the wartime fort.