Bristol Water have announced that the long-closed Shute Shelve Tunnel between Winscombe and the A38 is set to reopen on May 25 2018, in time for the half-term holidays. Click here for further details.
Kier, Bristol Water's subcontractors, have experienced considerable trouble with Shute Shelve Tunnel. The tunnel, which was meant to re-open in time for the summer holidays, will now be closed until October. The reason is... unpredictable bats! In order to start work inside the tunnel, Bristol Water first planned on "harassing" the bats by lighting the tunnel continuously for several weeks. The aim was for the bats to find somewhere else to live so works could commence without harming them. However, the lights attracted more invertebrates such as moths (which bats feed on), and so MORE bats (including new species) were actually attracted to the tunnel than before! This just goes to show what an extraordinary habitat the tunnel is – and also how little we still understand wildlife behaviour.
One thing is certain though: at the onset of the bats' hibernation period (usually sometime in October), Natural England stipulates that construction works in the tunnel be suspended and the route re-opened to the public until the spring. Until then, the diversion remains in place, which unfortunately is barely suitable for road bikes.
Please be warned that the path around Shute Shelve Tunnel is currently closed due to Bristol Water's Southern Resilience Scheme. A diversion is in place but some path users have pointed out that it isn't really adequate as a cycle path for road or hybrid bikes. As soon as the tunnel re-opens, we will put an update on this page.
Responses to our open letter are trickling in. Click here to read.
Today, the Strawberry Line Association and numerous Wells organisations and businesses sent a letter to all County Council candidates whose division contains the proposed Strawberry Line.
The were asked specifically whether they were willing to match North Somerset Council's robust commitment to the Yatton–Clevedon extension. NSC are considering a bridleway order, as well as reviewing their local transport plan for sustainable travel. They are also willing to directly negotiate with landowners and developers to achieve the path. Read the letter here. Replies will be published on our Facebook page and on the website.
After considerable delays, Bristol Water will now commence construction works for their Southern Resilience Scheme in the second half of April. This guarantees that the tunnel will be open throughout the Easter holidays! For more information, please read Bristol Water's official update.
Bristol Water will shortly begin works to install a new water mains pipe through the Shute Shelve Tunnel at Winscombe. They have nearly finished the cladding work on the tunnel to make sure the rare rock formations are not damaged during the pipeline work, also clad are the escape cut-outs in the tunnel where rail workers coul stand if a train was coming. The bat population shouldn't be affected as they only use the tunnel to feed on the spiders and other invertebrates, not to roost or hibernate as it's too drafty, cold and wet!
The markers for the other end at Winscombe in the Woodborough Field where the pipeline goes after leaving the line are also in place – 185 houses are due to be built here in the near future. Work is likely to start in early December. Watch this space for the exact date to be announced!
This morning, the Strawberry Line Association handed in the petition to extend the Strawberry Line to a full session of Somerset County Council. Our presentation (which you can read here) was greeted with applause, and a vote was carried unanimously in favour of endorsing the Strawberry Line project. We are thrilled to formally count the County among our supporters.
At the end of April, volunteers of all ages sowed seeds generously provided by the Grow Wild wildflower campaign in the clearing next to the ramp on the Dulcote railway path. On top of that, some also brought along unwanted cowslips from their lawns! Our plan is to create and maintain a wildflower meadow, which we have christened "Cooksmead" after the farmer who generously cleared the field for us over the winter. Go and watch the flowers grow this summer – it's been rainy and hot so they should be off to a good start!
The reinstatement and resurfacing work has now largely been completed this week on the Yatton, Congresbury and Sandford sections of the Strawberry line from Yatton Station to Thatcher's orchards.
There is some minor works still to be completed but the vast majority of the line is now in an improved condition compared to before the Weston Power and Solar Farm construction work started and is now open in time for the Easter holidays. Go and visit it – it's beautiful, and a real treat to cycle on!
The railway path between Dulcote and Wells has finally been restored to its original width of 3.2m all the way along the old trackbed. Thanks to the efforts of countless local volunteers, we managed to clear back two thirds of the path; the remaining third at the Dulcote end was cleared by Community Payback.
There are plans to improve the path with funds from Tesco's Bags of Help initiative. Watch this space for updates!
We are delighted that the Park Wood railway path between Dulcote and Wells is to be a recipient of Tesco's Bags Of Help initiative. With the funds, we will be able to carry out vital surface repairs, enhance wildlife along this green corridor, purchase maintenance power tools, install a new bench, and much more!
Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its Bags of Help initiative in hundreds of regions across England and Wales. The scheme will see three community groups and projects in each of these regions awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 – all raised from the 5p bag charge.
Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco's 390 regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags. The public will now vote in store from 27 February until 6 March on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards.
Work to reinstate a section of the Strawberry Line cycle path in Congresbury starts next week. PS Renewables will be resurfacing the cycle route between Weston Road and Drove Way/Nye Road as part of an agreement with North Somerset Council. Under this agreement PS Renewables used the Strawberry Line to access their solar farm project at Carditch Drove, south of Congresbury.
The reinstatement work will take about five weeks to complete and an on-road diversion route will be signposted during this period if users wish to avoid this section of the route. Members of the public are advised to take care if they do use this route while the work is in progress and follow the locally placed advisory signs.
North Somerset Council will be carrying out further resurfacing work on the A370 to Yatton section of the Strawberry Line later in February.
A letter from the chairman of the Axbridge-Cheddar group
Those of you who use this pleasant short route will I know be appalled by its state, particularly from the Cheddar end and through the cutting. It has been badly drained and very wet for a long time now. Your committee apologises profusely for this. We have waited for six years now for a decision from the authorities about the Sharpham Road Bridge alterations and have also been adversely affected by the need to dig up the track to provide services for the adjacent new houses.
Throughout this time we thought that the plan remained to widen the bridge and provide pavements on both sides to give safe routes from Sharpham Road, down to Cheddar and up to the top of the village.
The Cycleway only came into being because a pupil cycling down to the Kings of Wessex came off his bike and narrowly missed being killed by a following coach. Parent concerned about safety came to me as Head of the school at the time and the Cycleway idea was born and reached fruition twenty-five years ago.
We strongly oppose the new pedestrian bridge, which leaves users to cross the road at its most dangerous point (its entrance) and suggested a safe access route to Wideatts Road from the cycleway, which bypasses the bridge.
The good news is that a properly constructed and secured ramp with a one in twenty slope is still in the plans to give wheelchair users, pedestrians cyclists etc a safe way down to the track.
Since we are now in our seventies, volunteers to help us are badly needed. Please phone Dulcie Dibley on 742360 or Keith Herring on 743256.
Keith Herring (Chairman, Axbridge-Cheddar Group)
Contractors have recently finished terracing the bank where a landslip occurred, and have seeded grass and a variety of wild flowers below the covering hessian matt. We hope this will solve the problem.
We kindly ask that residents not try to cut trees down on the bank and also please not to encroach too closely to said bank.
Although all the heavy ballast for tracks and under the solar panels has been delivered, the panels themselves are still being delivered and fitted. This means a certain amount of disruption for the next three months or so. The path base itself will not be completely repaired until all the work has finished.
For updates from the developers themselves, or to make a complaint, click here. You are welcome to copy in North Somerset's Principal Green Spaces Officer, Gareth Withers (firstname.lastname@example.org) into any email response you submit.
Yesterday morning, volunteers organised by the Strawberry Line East group (in partnership with Sunstrans) began restoring the Wells-Dulcote path to its original width of 3.2m. They tackled a particularly challenging section at the Wells end, which had been reduced to less than a metre by encroaching brambles leading into the wooded cutting.
The group intends to tackle more in the very near future. If you are interested in taking part in this highly satisfying activity, please contact Richard Jones at email@example.com.
Between Wednesday 2nd September 2015 and Tuesday 15th September 2015, the Strawberry Line between Weston Road at Congresbury and Drove Way (Nye Road) at Sandford will be closed to all recreational users and commuters (including all cyclists, walkers and runners) to enable the safe delivery of material to the Carditch Drove Solar Farm development. A diversionary route will be available.
For more information, please read North Somerset Council's Advance Notice below.For updates from the developers themselves, or to make a complaint, go to:
We are pleased to announce that we will shortly take over maintenance of the Dulcote path. Arrangements have been made with County Highways that the Strawberry Line East group, in partnership with Sustrans, will organise local volunteers to help clear the path and restore it to its original width of 3.2 metres. Strategically, the Dulcote path is an important traffic-free route. It forms part of Sustrans NCN3 route connecting Bristol to Cornwall, and would be part of a proposed route from Wells to Dinder and Croscombe. It will also, of course, form part of the extended Strawberry Line connecting Clevedon to Shepton Mallet.
A further aspiration of the group is to see the completion of the Somerset Circle – an 85-mile circular tourist route to rival Devon's 30 mile Tarka Trail, and Cornwall's 18 mile Camel Trail, boosting the local economy for this part of Somerset. The Dulcote Path plays an important role for this visionary scheme.
Recently, the group, with Sustrans, went on a fact finding walk along the path and found it to deteriorate quickly upon entering the cutting from the Wells end (just past Morrisons Store) due to mud, brambles, nettles and encroaching grass. All of this needs cutting back to reclaim the path's original width.
Work on the path is likely to start in September, but further details will be posted here and on social media in due course.
For the full press release, click below.
We are now selling a limited edition car sticker for the bargain price of £1 (or £1.90 if you order online). Click here to get yours now.
John Osman, the leader of Somerset County Council, offered to cycle and discuss the proposed route from Cheddar to Wells with us, and last Saturday morning he was joined by campaigners and the local Sustrans area manager for an in-depth tour. The meeting was very positive, and enjoyable. The fact that it didn't rain helped too!
We greatly appreciate the interest and support that he displayed for the project (as well as his unique insights as a County councillor), and very much look forward to working more closely with him in the future.
Check out our ever-growing list of candidates keen to support the Strawberry Line Association in completing the path here.
As we consider the prospect of submitting smaller planning applications at District level we are interested in seeing who is prepared to go beyond bland statements of support 'in principle' and is prepared to work with us to make things happen. If elected as District councillor on May 7, who would support a Strawberry Line Steering Group comprised of local councillors and community activists to move the project forward? In North Somerset and BANES, local councillors and traffic-free path campaigners form a dynamic union – why not here in Somerset?
The Strawberry Line Association has therefore sent a letter to all District council candidates in Somerset whose ward is on, or very close by, the trackbed. These include:
- Croscombe and Pilton (Mendip)
- Rodney and Westbury (Mendip)
- Shepton East (Mendip)
- Shepton West (Mendip)
- St Cuthbert Out North (Mendip)
- Wells Central (Mendip)
- Wells St Cuthberts (Mendip)
- Wells St Thomas (Mendip)
- Wookey and St Cuthbert Out West (Mendip)
- Cheddar & Shipham (Sedgemoor)
We intend to publish all candidates' replies through our website, social media and our emailing list so that everyone passionate about the Strawberry Line Path knows which candidates are equally keen to make it happen.
A crucial section of the Strawberry Line that would run right through the heart of Shepton Mallet is one step closer to being built. This week, Sustrans will submit a planning application to Mendip District Council to extend the Millennium Way on the southern edge of Collett Park on through the council car park and the railway cutting under Cannards Grave Road to Station Road, behind Tesco's. This course would follow the old Strawberry Line trackbed all the way (view a PDF of the potential course of the Strawberry Line through central Shepton Mallet here).
Some 18 months ago Shepton Town Council contributed £5,100 to Sustrans to cover the cost of a full survey of the railway cutting and bring it to planning application stage. This is a wonderful illustration of what can be achieved when councils take the lead, hopefully setting an example to other land owners and councils where such paths are desperately needed.
From Station Road the former railway line going west is protected in the Local Plan 206-2018 as a "Safeguarded Corridor for Sustainable Travel". The first housing development going west has vehicular access via an access road from Station Road, which goes as far as Hitchin Lane. A second planning application is now with Mendip for 13 houses on land west of Hitchin Lane with a similar agreement for access from Station Road and through the first development.
A condition for these developments was that the Strawberry Line path has shared use along the quiet access road and that at the west end a short stretch of path will be constructed to rejoin the former railway line heading towards Kent Lane. From this point the track bed of the former railway going west is almost entirely intact with no built obstructions.
On March 14, the Strawberry Line Association set up a charity stall at Wells Market to offer the public the opportunity to meet us campaigners, garner further information, view plenty of maps (people were especially enthralled by the Somerset Circle!) and purchase a Strawberry Line mug. We were thrilled by the enthusiastic response we received from market-goers, and collected many more signatures for our petition, with the grand total now standing at 2,600!
In addition, two parliamentary candidates for the Wells constituency found the time to visit us and show their support for the project. Chris Inchley (Labour) turned up bright and early for an in-depth chat, and current MP Tessa Munt (Liberal Democrats) ardently canvassed with us for several hours, which was hugely appreciated. Both candidates bought mugs as well!
In light of Somerset County Council's current consultation on Rights of Way Improvement Plan, the steering group of the Strawberry Line Association has written an open letter to councillor Harvey Siggs regarding the ambiguous stance the County Council has displayed towards the project, and asks how committed the Council is to completing the path. Read the letter, and sign a petition calling for the Strawberry Line extension, here.
In a request to the Leader of the House on December 4 2014, Tessa Munt the MP for Wells said:
"May we have some parliamentary time to consider the disused railway line between Cheddar and Wells, which could provide a much safer alternative for pedestrians and cyclists who currently have to use the very dangerous A371? All the preparations have been done, involving hours of voluntary time and slugs of taxpayers' money, by way of county council officers' time, but the county council has prevented the Strawberry Line campaign submitting its planning application because it says that funding for the path is not in place. Will the Leader of the House encourage the council to dust the application off, as it is shovel-ready and funding is available, but it is dependent on planning permission?"
The planning application 2014/0803 discussed below was withdrawn.
On July 9 2014, a planning application to build up to 150 dwellings off Arnolds Way in Yatton was approved (14/P/0191/O). The land in question includes part of the old trackbed leading out of Yatton towards Clevedon.
The decision to approve the application was subject to the landowner entering into the Section 106 Agreement, part of which would be the provision of a 790-yard cyclepath across the site using the former railway. An improved link across Horsecastle to Yatton railway station (where the Strawberry Line currently ends) is also being sought by Yatton Parish Council, which would provide a seamless extension all the way to Kingston Bridge.
This means that there is the strong possibility of two thirds of a mile of new Strawberry Line. It would connect Yatton to Kingston Bridge, the residents on the new development to the railway station, and bring the Strawberry Line to within two miles of the outskirts of Clevedon - a mouthwatering prospect!
In June 2014 The Church Commission of England submitted a planning application (2014/0803) to Mendip District Council for "outline planning permission for up to 64 dwellings, a new access from Wells Road (A371), a pedestrian/cycle/emergency access from Station Road, together with open space, drainage ponds, car parking and associated infrastructure. All other matters (layout, scale, landscaping and appearance) are reserved for subsequent approval".
As this 10 acre meadow known as Broadmead includes land that was formerly the Strawberry Line railway track, the Strawberry Line Association has written to the planning department requesting that in the event of the application being approved an agreed sum should be included in any S106 agreement as a contribution to the construction of the path.
The Strawberry Line Society's annual general meeting will be held as usual at 7.30pm at the Cricket Club in Winscombe.