Published: 12th JULY 2021

6,000 miles of National Cycle Network cleaned by volunteers

Earlier this year we pledged to Keep Britain Tidy by cleaning up 5,000 traffic-free miles on the National Cycle Network. We asked Sustrans volunteers and the public to help by pledging their time to meet our goal. Here’s how we did.

Mum and daughter picking up litter on a traffic-free National Cycle Network route.

5,383 traffic-free miles of the National Cycle Network have been cleaned up as part of Keep Britain Tidy's Spring Clean.

To support our friends at Keep Britain Tidy, Sustrans staff, volunteers and supporters came together to clean up the National Cycle Network earlier in spring.

The event took place between 28 May and 13 June.

A huge 1,794 hours were pledged to clean up 5,383 traffic-free miles during the two-week period, beating our initial goal of 5,000 miles.

And in Scotland, local communities pledged to tidy up a further 600 miles of the National Cycle Network.

This was part of Keep Scotland Beautiful's recent campaign which ran from 28 May to 20 June.

So in total, almost 6,000 miles of the Network were cleaned up across the UK this spring.

What did we do?

Volunteers carried out different tasks to help clean their local route. This included:

  • picking up litter
  • cutting back vegetation
  • cleaning graffiti
  • giving grubby National Cycle Network signs a wipe down.

Improving the UK’s green spaces

Our Head of Volunteering, Katie Aartse-Tuyn said:

“As part of our new five-year strategy, we’re working hard to re-imagine volunteering at Sustrans.

“We want to provide a wider range of ways for people to give their time to support our work. And be more flexible in how communities and individuals can get involved.

“Pledging to support Keep Britain Tidy and Keep Scotland Beautiful this year has been a great way for us to get even more people supporting Sustrans.

“Seeing so many staff, volunteers and supporters come together to help look after the Network is truly amazing.

“Everyone involved has made a huge difference to the safe, green spaces that these 5,383 traffic-free miles provide to communities across the UK.

“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who pledged their time and went out on the Network. These routes are safe and clean thanks to your hard work.

“And I’m proud to have played my part by doing some litter-picking on the Bristol and Bath Path.”

Four Sustrans colleagues out on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path to clean up the route and pick up litter.

A group of Sustrans staff, including two of our Directors, headed out to help us reach our goal.

Giving back to a route that keeps us active

A group of Sustrans staff, including two of our Directors, headed out on the iconic Bristol and Bath Railway Path to help us reach our goal.

Susie Dunham, our Executive Director of Impact reflects on her volunteering:

“I am ever impressed by the quality of the Bristol and Bath Path, thanks to our wonderful South team, partners and volunteers that maintain it in fantastic condition as a linear route and a public park.

“Through lockdown it has been a haven for my family, keeping us active and happy – I even taught my little lad to cycle there.

“So it was a real pleasure to head out with colleagues to do some little picking and help Keep Britain Tidy.

“I am now even more appreciative of what our volunteers do across the Network to support paths for everyone.”

Blockquote quotation marks
It was a real pleasure to head out with colleagues to do some little picking and help Keep Britain Tidy. I am now even more appreciative of what our volunteers do. Blockquote quotation marks
Susie Dunham, Sustrans Executive Director of Impact

A few hours well-spent

Our interim Executive Director of External Affairs also pledged her time to clean up the Bristol and Bath Path. She said:

“What a wonderful way to spend a few hours – outdoors keeping the Bristol to Bath cycle path litter-free!

“A welcome change to my usual routine, (similar to many colleagues) predominantly in my living room in front of my computer.

“At first glance, the litter did not seem so bad, but the more we looked, the more we found.

“Benches were often a treasure for litter, where treats were enjoyed in times gone by – Lucozade, chocolate and the odd cheeky alcoholic beverage.

“Seeing colleagues face-to-face (some for the first time) was a joy and removing a few sacks of rubbish from the path exceptionally rewarding.”

You can still help look after your local route

But the work doesn’t stop there.

There are lots of ways that you can continue to help us look after the National Cycle Network.

Take a look at our list of quick and easy actions you can take to support Sustrans and the Network.


Find out more about volunteering with Sustrans and how you can support our work.


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