A new network of cycle trails in South East Cornwall could add between £2-£3 million per year to the local tourist economy, according to a new report.
The Looe Valley Trails project, led by Looe Development Trust, has tested the feasibility and cost of creating new trails linking Lanhydrock, Liskeard, Looe and Plymouth via the Cremyll Ferry. Their report, now available through the Looe Development Trust website, recommends the creation of 70 km of new trails at an estimated construction cost of £8.3 million, of which around half is off-road with the rest using quiet lanes.
The preferred route uses mainly existing offroad tracks along the Glynn Valley and West Looe Valley, with a new section up the East Looe connecting Looe and Liskeard following the route of the Looe Valley Branch Line. The preferred route from Looe to Plymouth uses quiet lanes along the coast including the spectacular Military Road, and approaches the Cremyll Ferry through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park. Reaching agreements with private landowners along the route will be an important next step for the project along with detailed engineering design work to get greater certainty about the project costs.
An economic impact study based on data from Visit Cornwall and evidence from other similar trails around the country suggests that the trails could be visited by as many as 500,000 people per year, generating £10 million per year of spending in local accommodation, cafes and other tourist activities. Between £2 - £3 million of this could be new spending that would otherwise not come to the area, representing a growth of 4% in the annual market for tourism. As well as extra spending from new visitors, there could be several new businesses created including cycle hire and cafes at key locations along the route.
The feasibility study, as first reported here in December 2016, was funded by Cornwall Council, the LEADER EU funding programme, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, Liskeard and Looe Town Councils, Liskeard Town Forum and the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.
Deborah Boden, World Heritage Site Co-ordinator, said “The Liskeard & Caradon Railway in the East Looe Valley was constructed as the essential transport link between the Caradon Hill World Heritage Site area and the port of Looe, from where thousands of tons of copper ore were shipped to South Wales for smelting. The presence of the railway, and the canal to which it was linked at Moorswater, also facilitated the growth of a major trade in Bodmin Moor granite, which was exported across the world. The Looe Valley Trail provides a great opportunity to tell the story of how these places and their people were shaped by industrialisation, and will engage local communities in celebrating their history and identity as industrial pioneers.”
The report has been welcomed by Cornwall Council and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP. Sandra Rothwell, Chief Executive of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, which co-funded the feasibility study, said: “This study shows the potential for the Looe Valley Trail to make a significant contribution to rural businesses in South East Cornwall and could complement recent LEP investment in Bodmin to strengthen the local cycle network and the visitor economy. We look forward to seeing further plans as they are brought forward.”
Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Neighbourhoods and a member of the Trail Steering Group said: “These proposed cycle networks are a fantastic opportunity for south-east Cornwall and support our work to build strong local communities, each with their own identity and offer for visitors. Improved cycle networks would provide significant benefits for Cornwall’s people, environment and economy by helping to connect communities, improve access to services, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles.”
To view the full press release for the Looe Valley Trails Project, please click here.