SOME of Swansea’s finest woodland will soon be open to all thanks to a new walking and cycling path linking Olchfa to the sea via Clyne Valley.
It’s anticipated the work to upgrade the Olchfa-Clyne Valley bridleway connecting Gower Road near Olchfa Comprehensive to the seafront near Blackpill will be finished in the next few weeks, in good time for the summer season.
Contractors have done a painstaking job to ensure bats, hedgehogs and other creatures who’ve made the valley their home have not been harmed during the upgrade.
Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement and Infrastructure Management, said much of the route was already complete and accessible to children in buggies and the disabled for the first time.
He said: “The work on this route and on the upgrade to Mayals Road are part of our multi-million pound Active Travel programme designed to encourage people to get out of their cars and on their bikes.
“But on top of that, for the first time the Olchfa-Clyne Valley route will be open to families with young children in buggies and disabled people, including the blind and partially-sighted.
“They will be able to enjoy and take inspiration from the natural environment of Clyne Valley that others have been able to enjoy for some time.”
The route’s mainly tarmac surface has been specially-treated in line with British Horse Federation recommendations so people who’ve enjoyed the route on horseback can carry on with their riding there.
And throughout the construction phase the council and its contractors have gone to great lengths to ensure local wildlife and plant-life have remained largely undisturbed.
Cllr Thomas said: “One of the great things about the upgraded bridleway is that it will encourage more people to visit, enjoy and be inspired by the natural surroundings to think about how they too can do their bit to protect our environment.
“We wanted to ensure habitats were preserved and as undisturbed as possible so that future generations would have the chance to enjoy the environmental and wellbeing benefits of a walk or cycle in the woods.
“That’s one of the reasons why we commissioned an ecological study and hired an ecologist to work with the construction team on a day-to-day basis.”
Prior to the upgrade the bridleway was suitable only for walkers, horse-riders, local people exercising their dogs, some off-road cyclists and runners. The upgrade will provide traffic-free benefits for cyclists, the disabled and young people using it as a route to school.
Cllr Thomas said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve been here for the people of Swansea and one of the things we noticed was more people were discovering Clyne Valley for the first time as part of their local daily exercise routine.
“Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, we want them to keep coming back and to bring their families and friends with them so that everyone can enjoy one of the great green gems of our city.
“We’re already working with local voluntary groups so that in the coming months we’ll be able to install interpretation boards and way-markers that will continue to improve the experience of all those who want to use the route.”