Alnwick Greenway group hope to bring Freemen on board with plans to revamp old railway line

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Plans to bring a redundant railway line back into use as a public greenway have received a positive initial response.

The recently formed Borderline Greenway Community Interest Company (CIC) wants to turn the former Alnwick to Cornhill railway line into an accessible pathway for walking, running, cycling and horse-riding.

A public meeting at the St James’ Centre was attended by more than 60 people.

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Northumberland Estates has already granted the group a 25-year lease for phase one of the proposed Alnwick Loop, a five-and-a-half mile circuit starting at Greensfield following the former railway line to Mossy Ford via Rugley Wood, then back to Alnwick via an improved gravel path to Alnwick.

The Alnwick Greenway.The Alnwick Greenway.
The Alnwick Greenway.

Colin Davidson, Borderline Group chairman, said: “The fantastic turnout at the St James’ Centre demonstrates to us the support this idea has in our community.

"We all know the trail and I’ve watched for years as it has become more overgrown.

"Now thanks to the Duke of Northumberland’s kind offer of a lease of land from Greensfield to Rugley Wood we hope to be able to bring the former line back to life as a green resource for the community of Alnwick and visitors to the area.”

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The ambitious ultimate aim is to extend the greenway all 40 miles to Cornhill.

The former Alnwick to Cornhill railway line.The former Alnwick to Cornhill railway line.
The former Alnwick to Cornhill railway line.

Alnwick county councillors Gordon Castle and Martin Swinbank both attended the meeting.

Cllr Swinbank said: “The re-use of a former rail route for the benefit of the community is an excellent use of the legacy left by former generations and creates something good for our health and the environment. The Alnwick Loop Greenway will be a superb addition to community facilities providing a safe, green and traffic-free trail for us all to enjoy.”

Cllr Castle added: “I fully support the development of new trails for folk to be able to safely enjoy the beautiful Northumberland landscape. The Borderline Greenway is an ambitious plan that if successful would be a fantastic addition to the trail infrastructure of the area benefiting not only the people of Alnwick but also encourage new visitors to the area.”

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Work has already begun with site surveys and potential contractors submitting quotations for the work. Several funding applications have also been made.

However, before real progress can be made the group hope to get the support of Alnwick Freemen.

David Wilson, a director of the Borderline Greenway group, said: “Work is being held up at the moment because the Alnwick Freemen who own a half mile section of the proposed route, as yet won’t talk to us. We’ve been unable to engage with them despite supplying information about the proposal several times.

"The section that the Alnwick Freemen own takes the trail under the busy Rothbury Road. We could miss this section out but in doing so people using the trail in the future would be forced to cross this dangerous road. Which of course we want to avoid.

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"We urge the Alnwick Freeman to get behind this popular community project by giving us access to this small piece of land to make the trail better and safer for all.”

Alnwick Freemen have a meeting next Tuesday, March 14, at which the matter is likely to be discussed.

The Alnwick to Cornhill branch line closed in 1953.

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