Bath's Two Tunnels Greenway cycle path opens
A £4m cycle and walking path with the longest cycling tunnel in Britain has opened with a mass cycle ride.
The Two Tunnels Greenway route opens up two former railway tunnels nearly 50 years after they closed.
Almost 2,000 people attended the mass cycle to mark the opening of the route which runs from Bath to Midford.
The path goes through Linear Park, on through the disused Devonshire and Combe Down railway tunnels, and over the Tucking Mill Viaduct.
At over a mile long, the Combe Down tunnel will be the longest cycling tunnel in Britain and will feature an interactive light and sound installation.
One million users
The Two Tunnels Group - a team of 11 cycling, walking and railway enthusiasts - first kicked off the plan to reopen the tunnels for public use seven years ago.
Frank Tompson, chair of the group, has worked with cycling charity Sustrans - who built the route - and Bath and North East Somerset Council to create the path.
"It's been a long journey since some of us stood between the bricked-up Devonshire and Combe Down tunnels and said, 'wouldn't it be a good idea if…'," he said.
"I am really pleased that we are finally in a position to open the route to the public and estimates suggest that up to a million people might use the path each year."
The project is part of Sustrans five-year project to extend the National Cycle Network into the heart of communities.
One of the first cyclists through the tunnel was Bath schoolboy Jamie Gant.
"It feels like I've gone back to the past but there are modern lights and modern stuff and there is no track. It was kind of a bit cold," he said.
Also trying out the new path was Winter Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams MBE who unveiled a portrait bench of herself, WWI veteran Harry Patch and a Roman solider.
Williams, from Bath, said: "This is so exciting for Bath and the community, there are so many people here.
"It is only going to encourage more people to get on their bikes and go out for walks and after the London Olympics ."
A few years ago I walked through the long tunnel and it was quite an experience. Next time I go up to Midford I'll take the bike and cycle through. Although this section of line doesn't feature in the New S&D's first tranche of reopenings - we'd prefer to go via Limpley Stoke to access the Network - in the longer term protection of the route can only be good for the railway. This should also make the visitor centre and shop at Midford much busier once it is open.