Published: 1st JULY 2019

Greener Greenways

Greener Greenways is a large-scale project to survey, protect and enhance biodiversity on the traffic-free sections of the National Cycle Network for people and wildlife. Greener Greenways routes are spread out across England, Wales and Scotland.

man and child cycling on a greenway path
Share this page

The Greener Greenways project

Greener Greenways is a biodiversity conservation project that focuses on 66 traffic-free walking and cycling routes owned or managed by Sustrans across Wales, England and Scotland.

In order to improve levels of knowledge about the nature along its greenways, we will identify what flora and fauna inhabit our greenways through an expert survey, volunteer surveys, data searches and consultation with conservation organisations.

Using the data from England and Wales, we will study the current and potential role of the route in reducing habitat fragmentation in collaboration with York University.

This information will inform the development of habitat management plans and enable Sustrans to protect and enhance habitats and species populations, and increase biodiversity along the route and habitat connectivity.

The Greener Greenways routes total 418km in length and link with over 5,000km of additional greenways across the UK. The initial pilot in England and Wales ran for three and a half years, between May 2013 and Nov 2016, and is being rolled out across the UK between 2017 and 2019.

In Scotland, the project will target 100km of greenways managed by Sustrans and over 100km of greenways owned and managed by other organisations. These are part of just under 600 miles of traffic-free greenways in Scotland.

The pilot project ran in Scotland for three years, between August 2013 and August 2016, and is now being used to inform future plans for managing greenways across Scotland from 2017 onwards.

The context for our Greener Greenways project

Historically nature conservation efforts in the UK have focused on protecting particular sites or species - an approach that has failed to stem the overall loss of biodiversity in the UK. 

Greener Greenways partner organisations

Get involved

You can be involved in looking after and learning about nature along your local greenway. Read about becoming a Sustrans wildlife volunteer. We are also setting up ‘friends of’ groups to act as guardians and advocates of each greenway.

If you'd like to know more about designing and maintaining biodiverse paths, download our Greenway Management Handbook.

Greener Greenways in the UK

  • South East 

Phoenix Trail (National Route 57 between Thame and Princes Risborough)

This trail has traffic-free cycle rides, tranquil paths to amble with your dog, safe areas to teach your child to ride and installation of 30 artworks. The local wildlife includes flower-rich grasslands, colourful butterflies and impressive red kites.

Didcot to Upton (National Routes 5 and 544)

This greenway incorporates the southern section of the Hanson Way and extends south of Didcot along part of the tranquil route 544 towards Upton. The chalk grasslands near East Hagbourne support a wide variety of butterflies as well as offering views across the Thames Valley.

Canterbury (National Routes 18 and 1)

This route includes parts of the traffic-free Great Stour Way, Fordwich Way and Crab & Winkle Way. From the route, you can see the marshland birds at Whitehall Meadows nature reserve, the bluebells and dormice nests at the ancient Chequers Wood and fine views over Whitstable.

  • South West 

Colliers Way (National Route 24)

This path between Dundas Aqueduct, Radstock and Frome makes use of disused railway lines through picturesque Somerset countryside. The greenway runs through cuttings rich in wildflowers, past orchards and woodlands and includes the Old Great Western Railway wildlife site.

Stop Line Way (National Route 33)

Work is ongoing to upgrade this route linking Bristol with the south coast. The greener greenway takes in sections from Cossington to Chedzoy through Bawdrip village. The route includes deeply wooded cuttings, a stream that tumbles over rocks and dams and the wide open grasslands along Kings Sedgemoor Drain where kingfishers are often spotted hunting for small fish.

Bath Two Tunnels (National Route 24)

This route takes in the iconic Devonshire & Combe Down Tunnels. The greenway runs between Bath and Wellow including the bat lofts in the tunnels. The route includes wet woodlands supporting a variety of smaller nesting birds and you can even spot lizards on a sunny day.

Bristol Bath Path (National Route 4)

This greenway runs from the Avon Valley Railway at Willsbridge right into the heart of Bristol city. The route bustles with people during the day and at night is equally busy with swooping bats, snuffling hedgehogs and twinkling glowworms.

Plym Valley Trail (National Route 27)

One of Devon’s best tourist cycling and walking routes, the trail has now been incorporated into Drakes Trail. The greenway runs between Plymouth and Tavistock along an estuary rich in sea birds and through the ancient woodlands of the Plym Valley.

Swindon (National Routes 45 and 482)

This peaceful, traffic-free route follows the railway path south of Swindon starting at Coate Water Country Park. The greenway links Chiseldon and Marlborough including cuttings filled with spring orchids and idyllic views over the North Wessex Downs.

  • East Midlands

Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail

This route follows the River Derwent from Derby to Worthington and Cloud Quarry. The greenway passes over Cuttle Brook, the Trent and Mersey Canal, the River Trent and Boden Brook linking habitats and species across the Derbyshire - Leicestershire border.

Fledborough to Lincoln

This old railway line takes you from the newly renovated viaduct at Fledborough over the River Trent into the ancient city of Lincoln. The greenway crosses the flat open plains of Lincolnshire including floodplain grasslands along the river and the woodlands at Skellingthorpe.

Newark to Cotham

The route runs from Newark North Gate station to the nearby village of Cotham along an old railway line filled with historic features and interest. The greenway passes lakes, woodlands and open fields with everything from urban centre to rural countryside.

Nutbrook Trail

This route is a 10-mile traffic-free path between the nature reserve at Straw’s Bridge, Ilkeston and Erewash Canal, Sandiacre. The brook provides lakes, wetlands and marsh with dragonflies and wading birds in abundance. Also, look out for our traditionally managed hedgerows.

Water Rail Way (National Route 1)

This route travels east from Lincoln and passes Washingborough, Bardney and Southrey on the way to Kirkstead Bridge following the River Witham. The river is home to a variety of wetland birds and the route includes open views of rural Lincolnshire.

Brampton Valley Way

This 14-mile route travels along National Route 6 between Market Harborough and Northampton including two tunnels known to support bats. Further south the route enters the Kingsthorpe Meadow Nature reserve, home to a variety of wetland plants and animals.

Grantham (National Route 15)

This rural route runs from Muston Meadows Nature Reserve to The Drift Road Harston following the old railway line and part of the Grantham Canal. This route includes beautiful flower-rich meadows, canal banks, mature trees and a variety of river wildlife such as dragonflies and wading birds.

Bennerley Viaduct

This impressive structure includes a variety of wildlife habitats and features under the spans including wetland birds, nesting owls, amphibians, reptiles and hedgehogs. Volunteers have made great improvements to the structure and more works are planned for the future.

  • West Midlands

Pelsall Greenway (National Route 5)

This project focuses on the greenway between Mill Lane in Walsall to Station Road in Pelsall. The route is being actively managed by local volunteers and includes swathes of wildflowers on the banks and verges.

Lias Line (National Route 4)

This attractive route links Rugby and Leamington Spa passing pretty villages, wildlife reserves, reservoirs and canals. The greener greenway includes the entirety of the Lias Line Local Wildlife Site, designated for its rare flowers and insects. You can also see a variety of fungus in the autumn and a host of wild birds in the bushes and hedgerows.

Kenilworth Greenway (National Route 523)

This short, 2-mile route links Kenilworth and Burton Green. The route includes numerous features for local bats and runs alongside a local amphibian and reptile reserve at Kenilworth Common.

  • North East

Sea to Sea (C2C), National Route 7

This historic route takes you from Washington to Consett through Annfield Plain and past the Beamish Museum. The greener greenway includes a number of wildlife features and habitats. Volunteers have been progressively laying hedges to improve the route for nesting birds.


This peaceful rural route runs from Haltwhistle to Featherstone Rowfoot. The greenway includes rustic gates, stone walls and spectacular views of the North Pennines.


This unusual route takes you from Lynemouth around the Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives site to Ashington. The greenway includes a number of unique features including species-rich hedgerows, flower-rich drains, woodlands, ponds and a windmill.


This part urban route takes you from the old station at Ryhope along the disused railway to Seaton Lane. The greener greenway includes ancient woodland, banks of wildflowers and open spaces with great wildlife potential.

Sefton Meadows

This route takes you north from Maghull as far as the coast at Ainsdale. The greener greenway includes Sefton Meadow Nature Area where volunteers have been installing features and encouraging rich abundant wildflower banks and attract wildlife to the woodland along Maghull Brook.

Wakefield to Castleford Cutsyke (Route 67)

This greenway follows the disused railway along tall embankments overlooking the River Calder. The route includes mature woodland and wetlands rich in invertebrates and acts as an important foraging route for local bats. The more urban section in Castleford includes banks of wildflowers and abundant nesting opportunities for birds.

  • North West

Chester Railway Path (National Route 5)

This route connects the historic town of Chester to the Wharf at Connah's Quay. The greener greenway runs the entire route starting from Lime Wood Fields, Chester to Dock Road, Connah’s Quay and is full of opportunities for wildlife including wet woodlands and a community orchard.

Fallowfield Loopline (National Route 6)

This urban route takes you from Chorlton-cum-Hardy to Debdale through central Manchester. The greener greenway includes a number of community spaces and south facing banks that support interesting and varied wildflowers, invertebrates and small birds.

Hadrian's Cycleway (National Route 72)

This route runs from Ravenglass to South Shields. The route is part of the Tracks of the Ironmasters and includes a variety of exciting new projects and wildlife features.

Liverpool Loopline (National Route 62)

The greener greenway runs the length of this popular traffic-free route from Halewood to Aintree and on to Southport. Volunteers are actively enhancing the 40+ access points along the route by planting wildflowers and improving habitats.

Whitehaven to Sheriff's Gate, Rowrah (National Route 71)

The greener greenway travels the full length of the route from Whitehaven to Sheriff's Gate. The route is part of the Track of the Ironmasters and includes a variety of exciting new projects and wildlife features.

  • Yorkshire and the Humber

Solar System Way, York

This long distance route takes you from Riccall right up to the historic, walled city of York. The greener greenway passes through rich countryside and includes a number of wildlife features such as bird hides, wildflower banks and a tree trail.

Spen Valley Greenway

This former disused railway line runs near the River Spen and links the towns of Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Heckmondwike and Bradford. The route supports many interesting invertebrates including glow worms, grizzled skipper butterflies and dragonflies along the river.

Foss Islands

This small section of the Way of the Roses between Lancashire and Yorkshire passes through the centre of York. The greener greenway includes mature woodland cuttings, artwork and a water vole conservation project on Tang Hall Beck run by St Nicks Nature Reserve.

Penistone to Dunford Bridge

This beautiful, traffic-free ride takes you from the busy market town of Penistone to the rolling moors of the Peak District at Dunford Bridge. It also forms part of the long-distance Trans Pennine Trail. The route is being actively managed by local volunteers and includes swathes of wildflowers on the banks and verges.

  • Wales

Clydach Gorge

The greener greenway travels the length of this route between Llanfoist, just to the south of Abergavenny, and Brynmawr, passing high above the Clydach Gorge. The heights of the route include some exceptional flowering grasslands, rare fungus and endemic Welsh Whitebeam trees.

Llantrisant Loop

This route travels between Treforest and Pontydun. The greener greenway is between Treforest and Tonteg passing through mature woodlands that support a variety of reptiles and large populations of amphibians including Great Crested Newt.

Peregrine Path

This beautiful woodland route follows the River Wye from Monmouth to Symonds Yat through the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. The greenway passes through ancient woodland filled with bluebells in the spring and roamed by otter, wild boar, deer and dormice.

  • Scotland

Dalmuir to Milton

This route is part of the National Route 7 connecting Sunderland and Inverness. The greenway between Dalmuir and Milton follows a canal towpath along the Forth and Clyde canal and a track-bed of the disused Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire railway line.

Paisley to Kilbirnie

This route is part of the National Route 7, connecting Sunderland and Inverness. The greenway between Paisley and Kilbirnie follows the trackbeds of two disused railway lines: the Paisley Canal railway line and the Dalry and North Johnstone line, also known as the Lochwinnoch Loop line.

Airdrie to Bathgate

This route is part of the National Route 75, connecting Leith (Edinburgh) with Portavadie in Argyll and Bute. The greenway between Airdrie and Bathgate is a new greenway, constructed as a replacement for the original cycle path, closed in 2008 to allow construction of the railway line, which opened in 2010.

Dalmarnock to Westburn

This route is part of the National Route 75, connecting Leith (Edinburgh) with Portavadie in Argyll and Bute. The greenway between Dalmarnock and Westburn initially coincides with the Clyde walkway along the River Clyde, before it turns away from the river and follows the trackbed of the disused railway line through Westburn.