A DISUSED military railway near Caldicot is to be transformed into an off-road route for cyclists and walkers.

The first phase of the project is already under way.

Council plans to encourage more sustainable travel to Caldicot Castle and its park grounds mean a former military railway will be repurposed to become a part of Monmouthshire’s Active Travel network.

Monmouthshire County Council (MCC), working in partnership with Sustrans Cymru - with support from Gwili Railway - is working to create a walking and cycling path which will connect the Cornfields Project to Caldicot Castle Park and the wider communities of Caldicot and Portskewett.

The first phase of the route will run from the Cornfields Project – a community-led initiative which reclaimed local scrubland and produced a well-used green space – to Caldicot Castle Park.

The long-term aim is to have a walking and cycling route which runs from Caldicot to Crick - connecting to Portskewett and offering people an alternative to the existing traffic-heavy route.

Following a successful grant bid to the Welsh Government’s Active Travel fund, the plans were bolstered and supporting work to ensure the protection of local trees and wildlife took place.

READ MORE: Cycle path plan for disused former Ministry of Defence railway line

Cllr Sara Burch said: “The proposed route will benefit a large number of people and will provide a safer and better means of walking or cycling in and around the Caldicot area.

"This project will help cut down our carbon footprint as routes to Portskewett and Caldicot will be much more accessible via biking or walking.”

The first action on the ground has been to clear vegetation so that the railway line could be removed.

Next the track was disassembled and transported to Carmarthen for reuse by Gwili Railway, a Welsh heritage railway.

The track bed is now completely cleared.

Some of the track will remain in place, as a nod to the heritage of the railway, and will feature as part of the final design along with boards describing the history of the site.

Gwyn Smith, network development manager for Sustrans Cymru, said: “The removal of the rail was a great team effort involving many partners.

"Local business owners, Wildwood Ecology, MCC maintenance team, Gwili Railway and Rail Contactors Barretts all came together, leaving a great space for the new path to be constructed.”

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MCC says they hope that construction of the new path will commence in winter of this year, with plans being developed to continue the path through Castle Park and into Caldicot’s town centre, ensuring easier access to local amenities.

The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by 2023.

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