Bristol & Bath Railway Path

Bristol & Bath Railway Path

The Bristol & Bath Railway Path is a 13-mile off-road cycleway that forms part of National Cycle Network National Cycle Route 4. The path consists of a 3-m-wide tarmacked surface, and was used for 2.4 million trips in 2007, increasing by 10% a year.]

The cycleway was built by the cycling charity Sustrans between 1979 and 1986. Sustrans leased a five-mile stretch of this route, near Saltford, with the help of the then Avon County Council, and using volunteer effort turned it into their first cycleway.


The path follows the route of the Midland Railway Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line from Lawrence Hill in central Bristol to Newbridge in Bath, which was closed during the Beeching Axe of the 1960s, in favour of the more direct former Great Western Railway between the cities. The route passes through the villages of:
* Saltford
* Bitton
* Warmley
* Mangotsfield

Bristol End

The path starts at Trinity Street, Lawrence Hill. coord|51.456104|-2.575019|type:landmark

taple Hill

3.2 miles from the Bristol End, the path reaches Staple Hill station. On the one remaining platform there is a modern sculptured seat. The path rises up level with the platform, and then drops back down to the track bed.

A short distance from the station is the entrance to Staple Hill Tunnel, a 0.3-mile-long tunnel under Staple Hill. The west end of the tunnel is located at coord|51.4792°|-2.51126, and the east end is located at coord|51.4789|-2.50439°.

The path takes up less than half the width of the tunnel, with the rest of the floor uneven rocks. The tunnel is lit all year-round, and despite the warning signs, 24 hours a day. The roof leaks in places, giving the appearance of rain, often when outside it is dry.

Mangotsfield Station

Mangotsfield railway station coord|51.4757|-2.4830|type:landmark_region:GB|display=inline was a station on the Midland Railway Bristol and Gloucester main line. The station was the junction for the Mangotsfield and Bath Branch Line that led to Bath Green Park railway station. Originally it had six platforms.

The disused Bristol and Gloucester route to Yate now provides a spur from the railway path northwest to the Bristol ring road cycle path and Emersons Green.

The remaining island platforms have railway related sculptures between them, some depicting waiting passengers.

Bristol ring road

From 1999 to July 2001, South Gloucester county council built a new section of the A4174 Avon ring road, along part of the railway path. Whilst the work was being under taken the path was diverted away from the route of the old railway line. A new section of path was added around the ring road which increases the length of the railway path by 200 yards. The new section includes two bridges, several tight corners, a hill (although South Gloucestershire Council describes it as a 'barely perceptible gradient') that puts cyclists into two blind bends at about 20mph, and two cattle grids.

Warmley Station

The station platform at Warmley contains a cafe, serving refreshments from Easter to September, as well as public toilets. [ [ Map - Warmley ] ]

Avon Valley Railway

Between Avon Riverside and Oldland Common railway stations, the path shares its route with the heritage Avon Valley Railway. Along the two mile shared section, the path crosses the railway line at two level crossings.

The Railway's cafe at Bitton railway station is open all year round to users of the path.

Bath End

The end of the path is at the Brassmill lane trading estate in Bath. coord|51.385498|-2.400456|type:landmarkThe west Bath river side path continues from there to the Pulteney Bridge in the city centre of Bath.

Guided busway proposal

In January 2008, a plan was revealed by the West of England Partnership to turn sections of the path between Emersons Green and Bristol City Centre into a Guided Busway. [] Sustrans have announced that they will oppose these plans, claiming that they are the "right idea, wrong route".

A petition against this proposal on Bristol City Council's website gained over 7900 signatures within the first month [ [ Bristol Petitioning ] ] . A website has been set up by a group opposed to the plans [ [ Save the Railway Path | The campaign to save the Bristol to Bath cycle path from being turned into a bus-lane ] ] . In a council meeting on April 1, plans for the busway were put on hold, but the council refused to completely rule out using the path for a busway at a later date. [cite news | title=" Cities' rapid bus scheme shelved" | url= | date=2008-04-02 | accessdate=2008-04-02 ]


External links

* [ Official website of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path]
* Sustrans, 2002. "The Official Guide to the National Cycle Network". 2nd ed. Italy: Canile & Turin. ISBN 1-901389-35-9. Relevant section reproduced [ here]

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