Beccles and Southwold linked by new cycle route

On your bikes, get set, go!

That was the starting cry in north Suffolk as 30 cyclists set off on their first formal journey on a new signed route.

The group of pedal-powered travellers spent the day trying out route 31 of the National Cycle Network which runs from Beccles to Southwold.

Route 31 passes through 13 miles of picturesque countryside between the two towns and avoids main roads such as the A12.

To celebrate the official opening of the new signed cycle route, members from the Beccles and Bungay Cycle Strategy charity organised yesterday's ride.

The 30 cyclists were given a warm send off by newly elected Beccles deputy mayor Graham Catchpoleat the town council chambers at 10.30am.

Their route saw them pass through Sotterley, Ellough, Stoven and Reydon Wood.

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An hour and half after leaving Beccles the group arrived at their coastal destination.

They enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Pit Stop Cafe on Southwold Common before setting off on their journey home.

The signs for the route cost several thousands pounds and were funded by sustainable transport Sustrans.

Sustrans set up the new route after Beccles and Bungay Cycle Strategy launched a campaign to have another cycle circuit from the town to promote tourism and the merits of cycling.

It follows Beccles's National Cycle Routes 1 and 30.

Graham Elliott, who set up the Beccles cycle group and took part in yesterday's ride, said: 'We have been working to get this route for two or three years.

'We wanted it from a tourist and leisure point of view as many people want to cycle from Beccles to Southwold without going on main roads.

'In fact some people did not even know you could cycle between both towns without going on main roads.

'Before the route people had to read maps and could easily end up on the A12 if they took a wrong turn.

'National Cycle Routes are vital for supporting sustainable tourism and transport in Waveney Valley.'

In May 1997 the Beccles Cycle Strategy group was formed to promote the virtues of pedal power and sustainable forms of travel.

Last year the group joined forces with similar minded people in neighbouring Bungay to create Beccles and Bungay Cycle Strategy.

Route 31 of the National Cycle Route features in the set of five Cycle Routes of the Waveney Valley and Sunrise Coast maps. Free copies are available from Bungay and Beccles libraries.