The UK’s first long distance cycling, walking and horse riding route is celebrating its 30th birthday with a series of events.
The coast to coast trail runs from Southport to Hornsea, with many sections on the Sustrans National Cycle Network, and attracts some 1.7 million people a year.
To mark this historic milestone the national Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) office is coordinating an events programme during 2019 along various parts of the 370 mile route. The year-long programme includes anniversary rides, walks and activities hosted by trail partners, including Sustrans TPT volunteers, Local Authorities, Friends of the Trans Pennine Trail and local user groups.
Initial construction works for the Trans Pennine Trail began in 1989, leading to a trail from York to Liverpool via Selby, Doncaster, Barnsley, Manchester, Warrington and Widnes, with other northern and southern sections added later to create the full coast to coast route that officially opened in 2001.
Today the Trans Pennine Trail meanders along old railway tracks, canal towpaths and riverside pathways, passing through urban and rural landscapes in Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. It includes some of the most historic towns and cities in Northern England, heritage sites and the Peak District National Park.
As well as the main coast to coast route (215 miles) there is an additional North-South section connecting Leeds and Chesterfield, and spurs to York and Kirkburton. Much of the Trail is relatively flat and provides a great safe area for everyone, including families, and those less confident or less able to get out and enjoy the fresh air.
Gillian Ivey, Chair of the Trans Pennine Trail partnership said: ”The route is a great place to encourage an active lifestyle, helping to promote good health through gentle exercise in a safe environment. In addition, in promoting sustainable travel the Trail is dedicated to improving air quality and reducing congestion by encouraging people to adopt green transport in their daily routines. It is wonderful to have Sustrans joining our 30th Anniversary celebrations.”
Sustrans is a partner of the Trans Pennine Trail and owns and manages some sections of the long distance path. The UK charity has active volunteer groups along the route and also helps attract funding to improve and maintain it. In 2015 Sustrans supporters voted the Trail as their favourite long distance route on the National Cycle Network.
Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans Director for the North of England said: “The Trans Pennine Trail is one of the early success stories of the National Cycle Network and a fantastic example of how local partners can work together to create a resource which helps thousands more people get active for leisure and everyday journeys. As we celebrate 30 years we are looking at ways to maximise the benefits of the trail for all user groups and to create links with local cycling and walking networks. As part of our review of the National Cycle Network we are seeking funding to invest in areas such as improving access along the Trail, on road safety, road crossings, way-finding and surface quality.”
First discussions about the development of a Trans Pennine Trail began in 1987. The coal industry in South Yorkshire had declined, leaving a network of abandoned railway lines. Barnsley Council commissioned Sustrans to carry out a feasibility study, looking at the possibility of creating a major recreational network based on the town’s old railway lines, but spreading as far as possible across the north of England.
Today the Trail start and end points at Southport and Hornsea are marked by striking Seamark features. Many users choose to travel from Southport to Hornsea for the prevailing winds and from here the route travels southwards to Liverpool and eastwards across the Pennines and the Peak District National Park, towards Hull and eventually terminates at Hornsea on the east coast. It passes through 27 Local Authorities, with northern sections linking in York, Leeds and Wakefield and a southern link to Sheffield, Chesterfield and Kirkburton. The latest addition – Penistone to Kirkburton section, officially opened in 2012.