Yesterday, at a meeting in Nantwich, Shea O'Neill, the project manager of the Weaver Valley Regional Park, gave an update on the progress of the project which now has Audlem as its southern gateway. The new park, with 111km of navigable waterways, is designed to help promote recreation and tourism in the Weaver Valley by providing access to quality landscapes and wildlife.
A key part of the project is the Weaver Way, a north/south route which would now have Audlem at its southern boundary and will go as far as Frodsham in the north of the county. Shea gave more details of the route, which eventually will be used by both walkers and cyclists. Starting at Audlem, the Weaver Way will head north along the Shropshire Union canal, past Nantwich, where improvements to the towpath are underway, to Barbridge. The Weaver Way then heads north eastwards towards Middlewich where, just to the west of that town, it will link up with the National Cycleway route that has been created by Sustrans.
Sustrans has been creating a country-wide cycleway network, a project that started in September 1995 with a grant for £43.5 million from the Millennium Commission Lottery Grant. Sustrans' ambitious plans to stitch together existing cycle routes and develop new ones into a UK-wide network had an original target of 2,500 miles to be built by 2000. They have well exceeded that target with twice that amount built by that year and a new 10,000-mile milestone then reached in 2005.
An amazing 232 million trips were made on the Cycle Network in 2005 alone. The routes are free to use and open to all, making them a great way for people to stay fit and healthy while enjoying a breath of fresh air.
There is much fund-raising work ahead for the Weaver Way project but it appears the plans are starting to fall into place. If it does all come to fruition, with more people walking and cycling, it could be of very considerable benefit to Audlem.
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