The Wylam Waggonway walking and cycling route on National Cycle Route 72, between Newburn and Wylam, has been upgraded with a new surface to make it more accessible for the people of Northumberland.
Wylam Waggonway launch event in April. Credit: Stephen Smith
Smoother surfaces for everyone
The Sustrans North team has worked with Northumberland County Council to create a 3.5m-wide bitumen surface on Wylam Waggonway, which will provide a smoother and more consistent surface along the two-mile path.
The additional width will make it easier for people to share the route safely.
Access barriers have also been redesigned to allow better access for a wider range of people using mobility aids, buggies and cycles.
The work has been funded by the Department for Transport.
People from the local community joined in a free celebration event on 23 April, including a ribbon cutting of the new path, activities for all ages and a led bike ride.
It’s the latest piece of work to upgrade the long distance route Hadrian’s Cycleway in Northumberland and Newcastle.
The Wylam Waggonway plays a key role in connecting people living along the Tyne Valley with the city of Newcastle and its surrounding towns.
The route is part of the 170 mile Hadrian’s Cycleway (Route 72) on the National Cycle Network.
Upgrades are also set this year on another section of the route in Newcastle between Walker Riverside Park and the Quayside.
Deterioration of the path
The Waggonway has become worn in recent years.
This has made journeys uncomfortable not only for people on cycles but for those who use wheelchairs or those with prams or pushchairs.
Users were hindered by a number of barriers along the path.
Paul Adams, our Network Development Manager for the North East said:
"It’s brilliant to see these improvements to the Wylam Waggonway which help many more people access this popular traffic-free path.
"We’ve worked hard to make the path accessible for as many people as possible. We’ve redesigned or removed existing barriers and added a smoother, wider surface so people with mobility aids and buggies are able to use the path.
“Since the pandemic many more people have started walking and cycling and a wide range of people of all abilities now use the route.
"We are asking people to please be mindful of others and share the path with care so everyone can enjoy it."
Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet member for Local Services with Northumberland County Council, said:
“We’re delighted this work is now complete – it’s more good news for cycling and walking in Northumberland.
“We know how popular this route is and the new surfacing will make this stretch much more accessible – not just for those on bikes but also for those with wheelchairs or buggies.”
Sarah Rowell, Principal Transport Officer at Northumberland County Council explains:
“Investing in sustainable infrastructure is high on our agenda.
"As part of our Big Northumberland Gear Change initiative which aims to get more people using sustainable methods of transport such as walking and cycling, we soon realised that our infrastructure needed improving to facilitate this.
"The public consultation on our walking and cycling plan has just ended and we are currently reviewing what people want in the hopes to implement change as soon as possible.
"Improving Wylam Waggonway is a small but important step in reaching our Net Zero target.
"It also increases accessibility along the Tyne Valley’s beloved walking and cycle route ensuring a comfortable journey for all.
"I’d like to encourage families, walkers, cyclists and visitors to make the most of the path this spring and over the coming summer months.
"Remember to be mindful when on the path and to ‘share with care’ so everyone, whether you’re a pedestrian, cyclist or wheelchair-user can enjoy the space.”
As part of the project, community groups got involved in activities on the route.
These include bird and bat boxes which were built by Ryton Men’s Shed group, and painted by Wylam Rainbows and Brownies.
There are also painted stones by Wylam Cubs and backrests for two benches on the path, designed by children at Wylam First School and Newburn Manor Primary.
We are working with local authorities across the North East to help improve local cycling and walking networks.
We are leading a £77m England-wide programme to enhance the National Cycle Network.
Supported by the Department for Transport, the programme - which is delivering over 150 transformative projects to improve over 300km of the Network - is making walking and cycling safer and more accessible for everyone.
The programme forms part of our Paths for Everyone vision of a UK-wide network of traffic-free paths, connecting cities, towns and countryside, loved by the communities they serve.