Boots and bicycles to tread where steam engines once roared as part of proposed ‘greenways’ network
PUBLISHED: 16:16 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:52 15 January 2019
They were once Norfolk’s arteries, conveying residents and visitors in their thousands across the county for business as well as pleasure.
But many stretches of countryside which once bore steam locomotives have lain deserted for decades as railway routes closed down.
Now a fresh attempt to revive a trio of disused railway routes is underway - but instead of being driven by coal and steel, new visitors are to be powered by boot and bicycle.
Norfolk County Council is looking at turning the former Aylsham to Stalham, King’s Lynn to Fakenham and King’s Lynn to Hunstanton routes into cycling, walking and ‘wildlife-friendly’ paths to be known as ‘greenways’.
Matt Hayward, the Greenways projet lead, said: “We’re trying to identify the benefits in four key areas: economic, social, health and environmental.”
A council spokesman said the trails would similar to Marriott’s Way, which runs for 26 miles from the centre of Norwich to Aylsham, and is used by more than 500,000 walkers, cyclists and horse riders a year.
The spokesman said: “We are conducting a feasibility study looking to develop a greenway network across the county.
“We aim for them to extend across Norfolk and link into the Norfolk Trails network of promoted walking and cycling routes.
“Greenways offer a safe route for people and animals to travel.
“Our study is focusing on the particular benefits of health, wellbeing, economy, increased biodiversity, alleviation of congestion and air quality improvements.”
The council has launched a survey for landowners, residents and community groups to give their feedback on the plans, which can be found online at www.norfolk.gov.uk/greenways
A series of public exhibitions is also planned, to run from 2pm-7pm at: Stalham Town Hall (January 22), North Walsham Community Centre (January 24), King’s Lynn Preservation Trust (January 30), Dersingham Library (January 31), The Ffolkes, Hillington (February 6), East Rudham Village Hall (February 7), Fakenham Community Centre (February 11), Hunstanton Library (February 13).
The spokesman added: “Ideas are also being sought on how local history, conservation and schools groups may wish to get involved and contribute as the greenways project develops further.
“Officers will also be keen to hear how people may see themselves using the new paths in the future.
“We will use the public feedback to produce a report outlining what will happen next.”