The Strawberry Line cycle path makes use of the disused railway line running from Yatton out to Cheddar. It was built after the communities along the route came together to show North Somerset Council that connecting the small villages would enhance their communities and was a priority for them. It wasn’t without its challenges and took a lot of collaborative work with landowners to find a way to make it happen and minimise the impact it had on them. But what a success story it has become!
You’ve probably guessed that the name of this former railway line relates to the very luscious consignments of strawberries that it used to carry from the strawberry fields of Cheddar. It closed in 1965, until volunteers from the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society began converting the line into a walking and cycling route in 1983.
The path is well signed and there are information boards at key points so you know exactly where you are. Being level and straight with no really steep hills to negotiate makes it a very easy walk or ride and it is also suitable for wheelchairs and push chairs. On the whole it is traffic free although you do need to cross short sections of busy roads at Congresbury, Sandford and Axbridge.
The Strawberry Line route is a nature lover’s paradise! It has an absolute wealth of wildflowers, wildlife, insects and bird life. The section from Yatton to Congresbury is part of the Biddle Street Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to otters, grass snakes, toads, newts and many varieties of butterflies, birds and bats. Through an agreement with Natural England and North Somerset Council, YACWAG (Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group – registered charity number 1076362) manages this biodiversity. Check YACWAG out here:
The route, starting at Yatton station, passes through some beautiful scenery notably the flat marshes and cider apple orchards around Yatton, steep wooded valleys and a tunnel under the Mendips, to historic Axbridge and the awe-inspiring Cheddar Gorge.
Many of us take full advantage of walking or riding this safe and scenic route on a regular basis, either for pleasure or as a way to get from A-B without the need to get in the car.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to build on this success and extend the route from Yatton to Clevedon, a route which by road is currently extremely hazardous? Such a route which would largely utilise the ex-railway line would be an easier, safer, healthier and more sustainable alternative. Check out a ‘then and now’ look at the railway line here:
With your support this will happen but we need people to keep it as a priority for North Somerset Council by letting them know why it is so important to us.
One way of doing this is to engage with The Strawberry Line to Clevedon Group (SLiC) who are a relatively new, non-profit group working with and supporting the other groups along the Strawberry Line as well as North Somerset Council and Sustrans. The aim of this group’s campaign is to capture the views of people in the Yatton, Clevedon and surrounding areas, demonstrating what a positive impact the extended path could have.
To do this the group have set up a very user friendly website (funded by 67 Barista Barber) where people can register their thoughts. Many have already shared their stories that range from helping with mental health issues, helping with marathon training for guided blind runners, to providing a safe route for commuters. The administrators of the website are doing a fantastic job of collating all of the fabulous support. The most recent data reveals over 2500 have registered and over 300 people have shared their stories as to why the extension would be important to them. Check out 67 Barista Barber here:
With the help of a range of local partners and sponsors including That Copy Shop, Objective 1 and Curzon Cinema and Arts you will see posters and flyers in the local area raising public awareness. You will see representatives of the group at key locations in Yatton and Clevedon encouraging local people and visitors to register their support via the website, or by signing up to the campaign there and then.
They recently braved the inclement weather to attend the Clevedon Sunday Market and were a visible presence at the 150th Pier celebrations where they attracted a lot of attention. Having set themselves a target of 5000 signatures over the next 12 months, the group are determined to keep up the momentum and be successful.
As well as local sponsors, local organisations are showing their support, the most recent being Nailsea Concert Orchestra who are having a special collection for SLiC during the interval at their concert on 13th July.
Added to this, SLiC are going to be getting hands on, helping to clear parts of the potential route owned by the council so suitable surveying can take place. Fund raising is also going to be part of on-going work to help with costs as they are identified by North Somerset Council.
There is also the opportunity to follow the group’s progress via their Facebook and Instagram pages, where you can find out the dates of the monthly meetings; if you fancy going along to offer your help, you would be most welcome. This is a great opportunity to play a part in making a real difference in your local area – so please add your support and help keep this great project on track.
If you feel as passionately about this campaign as many of us do then you might like to consider even greater involvement. SLiC are now looking for a volunteer to join the group to act as their Social Media Co -ordinator.
Geoff Richardson, secretary for SLiC says “ we are looking for an enthusiastic volunteer to co-ordinate the information that SLiC generates and shares via social media to make sure our local communities are kept up to date on progress and on how they can help”
It is anticipated that the role would require approximately 5 hrs a week from someone with experience across a range of social media platforms, with the ability to carry out relevant research that would support the cause of the group. The group are also looking for a volunteer who could support with fund raising for this exciting campaign. Could this be you? For more detail about either of these roles or to express an interest please contact SLiC here:
In the meantime, we’d love it if you’d sign the petition which is here:
Originally posted on FACES of Clevedon