On Saturday 5 October, the three local authorities in the West of England joined Sustrans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.
The celebrations started with a workday on the path at Staple Hill, where volunteers and Sustrans staff cut back overgrown hedges, picked litter along the route, and cleaned signage and benches.
The litter collected told quite a story, with a drinks can from 1989, a mattress and the numbers from a dartboard amongst the finds.
Users of the path enjoyed free cupcakes and talked to us about what the route means to them.
We heard from people who use it every day to get from A to B, and from others who had only just discovered that it exists. One told us that she’d enjoyed the path so much for cycling that morning that she would be back in the afternoon to go for a run.
Later in the day, we held a more formal celebration event at the Avon Valley Railway in Bitton, where we were joined by John Grimshaw – one of the founders of Sustrans, who was instrumental in bringing the path into being.
Councillor Ruth Pickersgill from Bristol City Council, Councillor Joanna Wright from Bath and North East Somerset Council and Councillor Stephen Reade from South Gloucestershire Council all spoke about their commitment to the path. And Zoe Banks Gross described its vital role in providing a green and biodiverse space between two cities.
The Bristol and Bath Railway Path was Sustrans’ first major infrastructure project. It has become an iconic and incredibly popular traffic-free route, which inspired the development of the National Cycle Network.