Some of our supporters … if you would like to add your comments and an image to this page please contact us by email.
Ottery Town Council Support Trail
Mrs Christine McIntyre, the Clerk to Ottery St Mary Town Council, has written to both Devon County Council and East Devon Council (October 2016) :-
Robin Savill – General Manager, Escot
I commute to work by train every day and therefore know how dangerous it can be walking the route between Feniton Station and Escot. Not far from where I live, the old Somerset & Dorset Railway line is now the ‘Trailway’, where walkers and cyclists can enjoy the 12 mile route, away from the traffic which seems to get heavier each year.
It would be fantastic to see a new generation of youngsters confidently getting around on their bikes in East Devon too. This project wouldn’t just benefit children going to school, however, it would also transform the experience of commuters, holidaymakers and anyone else wishing to explore the East Devon countryside safely. Imagine watching local traffic decrease, as word gets out that it’s safe to travel by bike or on foot again!
Robin is the General Manager at Escot. He belives that the trail would be wonderful for the local people and it would boost tourism in the area too.
The following is an extract from an article that I wrote for Arkadia magazine recently, which gives a further taste of the advantages of projects like this.
“With the latest section from Stourpaine to Blandford opening earlier this year, the North Dorset Trailway now takes in 12 miles of beautiful Dorset countryside, connecting Sturminster Newton with Spetisbury. Once linking Bristol with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the Somerset & Dorset Railway carried its last passengers in 1966, but more recently has allowed a new type of traveller to evolve; a race of explorers for whom locomotives have been replaced by local motives.”
“Whilst many people use the trailway to get their daily exercise or as the perfect cycle route, away from the dangers of ever-increasing traffic, there is also a growing band of like-minded people that look upon the trailway as the string that connects the pearls of North Dorset. Along its route you will find a wealth of specialised, artisan and rural businesses – a mix of traditional shops, that once reaped the rewards of their association with the railway, and newcomers that provide the perfect complement to their long-established counterparts.”
Jo Elliott (a keen cyclist) and a teacher at the school is really keen to involve students to campaign for change for worthwhile causes. Part of the draw for moving to a rural area is to make the most of the Devon Countryside and she hopes the local community will back the campaign.
Members of the Steering group and students from The King’s School held a meeting in 2012 to see if there was any support for the idea first muted by a Year 8 student in a politics lesson. The support for the cycle path was overwhelming so the group has been looking at ways to campaign for this pathway ever since. Students think a cycle path would be really beneficial for them to travel to school in a safe way decreasing their carbon foot prints. Presently they have to catch buses or rely on parents to travel to school which is something they want to change for future students to our school too.
‘My name is Ben I am 9. I like cycling because it is fun. I like going for a ride with my family. Practically every day I cycle to school, it feels like you are doing something rather than sitting in the seat of a car. I think it would be good if the cycle path was built, because it would mean you can cycle somewhere where there are no cars. It means you can relax rather than having lots of hustle and bustle. It makes me feel happy when I am on my bike.’
Ottery Tourist Information Centre
Phyllis Baxter and friend Anne Tombs at the Ottery Tourist information centre support the campaign.
They think it would be good for various different groups in the local area and it could be beneficial for the tourist industry. Phyllis said she loves to see people out and about on their bikes and as a walker herself she is keen to promote the path.
Ottery is also a part of “Walkers are Welcome” campaign and the multi use path could help boost visits to our area.
Jeff Vinter – Railway Ramblers
I am SW Area Organiser for Railway Ramblers (www.railwayramblers.org.uk) and a year ago led a weekend’s worth of very enjoyable walks around the former lines that radiated out from Feniton and Tipton.
I wish your project every success.
Carole Grimsley thinks a cycle path would be a great way for all age groups to explore their local area.
Carole is on the Otter Trail Steering group and helps the campaign asking for donations and looking after our funds. THANKS Carole!
Local resident and kitchen fitter Nick Row thinks a cycle path in Ottery and the surrounding area would be an excellent idea as he would use it regularly to cycle with his young family.
He could train them how to cycle on softer ground rather than travelling to other places to do this.
Members of the local group Sustainable Ottery are really keen to promote an eco friendly and healthy lifestyle and fully support the campaign to get a cycle path established in this area.
You can catch up with their curent activities and initiatives on their website at www.sustainableottery.org.uk.
Patrick and Rafe
Two local primary school students Patrick and Rafe think a cycle path in East Devon would be a great idea as they are keen to get around on their bikes but sometimes the roads are too busy and dangerous.
Jane Adams (from the United States!)
American tourist Jane Adams and her two children travel round Devon every year on their customised bike.
Jane would really benefit from a cycle path from Feniton to Ottery as she uses the train to travel around too and some of the roads are difficult to negotiate.
Jason Wood thinks a cycle path would be an excellent addition to the local community.
Jason campaigns to raise awareness of disabilities and hopes the cycle path would enable some wheelchair uses access to some of Devon’s beautiful countryside.
Jason hopes to build up links with The King’s school (pictured here) to work on joint projects with the youngsters at school.
Ottery St Mary Scout Group
John Green, Group Scout Leader writes
“Ottery St Mary Scout Group are delighted to support the project to create a cycle path from Feniton to Ottery St Mary and ultimately onto Sidmouth. As an organisation with membership of over 120 young people aged 6 – 18, we promote the self development of young people by offering an opportunity to take part in a range of activities many of them adventurous and especially those with an outdoor focus. Many of our members come from Feniton and other villages and it would be ideal to provide a safe cycle route for them to get to and from the weekly meetings and not have to rely upon parent transport.”
“As a Scout Group we organise activities for the older groups involving bikes and it would be ideal to have a cycle path linking key towns and villages that we can use to access other parts of the area without navigating on small, narrow lanes which are not always ideal when taking 20 – 30 young people out and about.”
Teachers at King’s School
Mr Elliott and Mr Gray who both teach at the local school are keen cyclists and would welcome a cycle path in our local area.
It would be a great way to introduce more young people to the roads as they can be really dangerous in this part of Devon. It is unusual to see them both in a serious pose!
Laurence Wayne (King’s School)
“I think having a cycle path is a great idea as it will provide a safe passage for other cyclists. It is also good as there (hopefully) won’t be any potholes along the route so that will be one less thing to worry about as we go along.”
“We will be safe from cars, kerbs and a few other issues that may come up. This is why I am campaigning for it.”
Roger Giles (Councillor Ottery St Mary Town)
“The idea of a cycleway on the old railway line was first raised around 15 years ago and the County Council subsequently supported in principal the conversion of some of the disused railway lines identifying the Feniton to Sidmouth line as suitable.”
“Over the years I’ve lobbied for it from time to time to push things forward.”
“We want to get people to sign up to developing the project further, for example through campaigning to get it delivered sooner rather than later.”
“I hope people will also come forward to form a Committee to get the project off the ground.”
“The project could well cost several million over a number of years but the benefits are already proven with the success of other cycleways such as the Exe Estuary Cycle Trail and the Tarka Trail in North Devon.”
“The boost to tourism would be huge, and it would provide an attractive opportunity to cycle and a link between communities.”
Ken Mylne (Tipton Resident)
“I support the proposal, especially the southern part from Ottery through Tipton to Sidmouth. This would make a lovely tourist route, but also a safe route for kids from Tipton to the Kings School and for anyone from Tipton to Ottery for shopping etc.”
Claire Wright (Councillor Ottery St Mary Rural)
Claire Wright also actively supports the Trail …
“More work needs to be done though and we are setting up a committee to find what what blocks there are and work out how we can resolve them.”
“This is a long-term project and funding is an issue and I don’t think anyone is under the impression it will be created overnight, but to achieve the project I do think it needs a bit of community enthusiasm and an active working committee to try and get around the blocks. If we don’t do that it may never happen.”
“We hope that by forming an active committee the cycleway (particularly the Ottery end, which is what we are focusing on) will become a reality sooner than it might otherwise have done.”
Claire Wright also works with youngsters at the school to help them develop skills to campaign for local issues.
Emily Redman (King’s School)
Emily says …
“I am a student at the King’s School and I think that the cycle path will be a good idea because it will be safer for people to ride their bikes. Also it may encourage people to ride their bikes more and exercise more.”
Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton
“I write in full support of the project to create a cycleway on the disused railway line from Feniton to Sidmouth. I believe that this will create an excellent cycle route and will be extremely good for local people and visitors to the area.”
George Kimber (King’s School)
“I am a very keen cyclist and enjoy cycling. This path would benefit me as I live 2 miles from Feniton and i would use it regulary.”
George modestly doesn’t mention that he accompanied his Dad cycling the last 200 miles of an End to End in 3 days.
A Mum from Payhembury
“I think this is a great idea. I keep meeting people who say they would cycle if the roads were safer.”
“Paths like this to places we use all the time (e.g. school, Ottery for shopping etc) might encourage people to start cycling. Best of luck!”
John Rowland (CTC Exeter)
John Rowland says …
“I write on behalf of CTC Exeter (Cyclists’ Touring Club) about the proposal for a cycle trail from Feniton to Sidmouth using the route of the original railway line. Our club, over 100 strong, meets mainly twice a week having many retired members plus other gainfully employed enthusiasts. Based in Exeter our rides cover much of East Devon, Central Devon and the Dartmoor area. In addition we often travel further afield to explore North Devon, Somerset and Dorset.”
“Quite often our riding groups number from 15 to 20 cyclists and we often visit Sidmouth from Exmouth or Exeter then ride north towards Feniton or Honiton. Or indeed visa versa. I tell you this to assure you that we would welcome an additional cycle track (away from traffic) in that area. In fact it would be put to fairly regular use.”
Year 7 & 8 Pupils at King’s School
Year 7 & 8 pupils at the initial meeting to kick off the Otter Trail Project. Councillor Roger Giles is on the left and Jason Wood on the right.