Tidenham Tunnel to open as Wye Greenway Work concludes
Tidenham Tunnel (Forgotten Relics)
A long-running project to build a pedestrian and cycle path on a disused railway line in the Wye Valley will take a huge step forward this week. The Wye Valley Greenway project aims to repurpose the long-since defunct railway line between Chepstow and Monmouth.
Part of the line heads through a 1km tunnel near the National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC) just outside Chepstow. The last train to use the section of line, did so back in 1992. The project to turn the derelict railway tunnel into part of the greenway has been ongoing since 2019. With building work taking place from 2020. From 8am on Thursday 31st March, the tunnel section of the greenway, which currently runs approximately five miles from Sedbury to Tintern along the Wye, will be opened to the public. Volunteers from charitable organisation Greenways and Cycleroutes originally surveyed the route in 2018. They supervised construction by local contractors and organised volunteer work camps to repair structures, put up fences and install lighting and bat shelters. Construction was funded by the Railway Heritage Trust, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Enovert Community Trust with contributions from Sustrans, A to B Communities and Greenways generous supporters. A Greenways and Cycleroutes spokesperson said: "The route would not have been possible without the support of the National Diving and Activity Centre, Wyedean School, Forestry England, A to B Communities, Bishton Farm, co-operative neighbours, and Greenways volunteers." The tunnel was surveyed for 18 months before being opened to the public, as the area is important for lesser horseshoe bats. The tunnel will be closed at night and in the winter in order to protect the animals. Lighting within the tunnel will also be kept at a level which is suitable for bats. The bats nesting in the tunnel will be regularly surveyed to ensure that they are not disturbed. In a statement, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said: "Please enjoy this special access through some of the UK’s richest, internationally important, ancient woodlands of the lower Wye Valley and remember that not all the woodlands are open access so please check for public rights of way and consent to avoid trespassing or disturbing important habitats for wildlife."