Derbyshire aims to be the UK’s most connected cycling county but the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Derbyshire (and in the East Midlands) has totally inadequate cycling provision
England has only 18 sites inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Derbyshire is honoured to be the location of one of them, the Derwent Valley Mills, which is recognised for the birth of the factory system and as the first location worldwide to see large scale industrial activity in a rural landscape.
The Derwent Valley Mills Heritage Site is 15 miles from end to end and cycling would offer an excellent and sustainable way for visitors to travel between the various attractions. However, uniquely amongst the English World Heritage Sites, the facilities for cycling are totally inadequate.
The Derbyshire Cycle Plan, supported by Derbyshire County Council, declares that they want Derbyshire to be the “most connected cycling county in England”. Until there is cycle access throughout the only World Heritage Site in the East Midlands that goal is unachievable.
The National Cycle Network has good connections to Derby at the southern end of the Heritage Site, the High Peak Trail (NCN 54) terminates near Cromford and there is a new route north from Matlock (NCN 680). However, apart from Darley Park at the southern end, there is no National Cycle Network within the World Heritage Site.
The Derwent Valley Trust is calling for a high quality traffic free cycleway to be built through the World Heritage Site to enable Derbyshire to deliver on its “most connected cycling county” goal and for all the commuting and tourism benefits that the route would provide. The economic case for the route is already established and shows a Very Good 4.8:1 return on investment.
Surely the UK Government would want to demonstrate their commitment to cycle travel by providing good quality access to, and through, all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country? And, surely Derbyshire won’t be able to claim to be the most connected cycling county when the only English World Heritage Site without good cycling provision is within Derbyshire?
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