It’s not just trains that get to experience the stunning – and wind-swept – Dawlish coast in Devon. The spectacular spot, still closed to trains after February’s storms, will soon be accessible via a brand new cycle route.
The largely traffic-free Exe Estuary Trail follows the River Exe from Exeter, turning onto the coast at Dawlish Warren. But a mile-long stretch beside Turf Lock and Powderham has been missing for several years.
Now, Devon County Council is spending £1.6m to build a 3m-wide off-road cycle path, passing through an extremely ecologically sensitive area. The route follows the estuary flood banks, with viewing areas giving stunning views of the Exe Estuary.
A new bridge will take the trail over the Paddington to Penzance main railway line near the existing level crossing at Powderham, before joining a quiet lane for the journey down to Starcross.
Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s cycling councillor, said:
“This last piece of the jigsaw may have been a long time coming but it will certainly have been worth the wait once the trail is complete. The Exe Estuary Trail highlights why we’re a cycling county and there’s no doubt it will be a flagship route for our county. It has become one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular views offered by the Exe Estuary. The Trail is attracting people to explore the area, which is good for local business, but it’s there for local people to enjoy as much as visitors. It provides communities along the route with the opportunity to cycle or walk on their journey to work or school as well as in their leisure time.”
The new bridge has aroused some local concern, with original plans for curved approach ramps being replaced with straight-up approaches. Work is expected to be completed by late September 2014.
A ferry runs between Starcross and Exmouth on the other side of the Exe, offering the tantalising option of a 16-mile circular, traffic-free route around the estuary.