Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Drake's Trail - the future...

By now I expect you know about the new Gem Bridge being constructed over the Walkham valley, on the site of the old Grenofen viaduct Brunel had built. The new bridge is a superb idea that, once completed, will offer cyclists, walkers and wheelchair users a pleasant way to cross the valley.

Crossing the Walkham before was simply not possible for wheelchair users, but after January 2012 they should be able to do so as not only will they have Gem bridge to carry them across, but the path leading to it will have been sealed.

Of course, once you've crossed the Walkham valley (towards Tavistock) there are still some seriously iffy bits ahead, not least of which is the steep uphill once you're back on a road. Not nice, I can assure you, especially with laden panniers.

However, there is good news!

Devon County Council have also invited tenders to re-open the old Grenofen tunnel that passes underneath Grenofen. Alongside that work, they are also planning on rebuilding the Ashmill bridge, just outside Grenofen.
When completed, this will take the route into Tavistock in a whole different direction, and be far less steep.

The map below shows it more clearly - I've (crudely) drawn the new route in yellow, and the current one in blue:
You can view the actual Google map here: http://goo.gl/maps/7bjl

Additionally, you may wish to go view this thread that shows in what good shape the tunnel actually is in. The tunnel is 354 m long and 5.5 m wide. Apparently, in places it is up to 6.7 m high. As with the Shaugh tunnel on the Plym Valley Trail, bat-friendly lighting will be installed at low level.

I've said so before - Devon County Council seems switched on to the economic benefits cycling can bring to the area.