Dec 2020 – Little Mill Jn – Usk, Monmouthshire

Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee has approved plans to convert about 4 miles of the trackbed of the ex-GWR line between Little Mill Junction and Usk. The path will start near a point on the A472 to the west of Coleg Gwent and the Monmouthshire Council application says it will provide ‘a safe off-road cycleway route’ linking Usk with the canal and other purpose-built cycle tracks to Blaenavon, Pontypool and further afield. It doesn’t say how it will gain access to Pontypool, where an 11-mile cycle route leads to Blaenavon, although the application forms part of a wider proposed Usk to Pontypool national cycle route involving Sustrans. The plans approved are for the second phase of the cycle path project, with the other sections of the planned route between Glascoed Lane and Little Mill and connections to the roundabout at Mamhilad, just outside Pontypool, subject to separate applications. Our reporter said it’s not clear whether any of the section westwards to Little Mill en route to the canal at Mamhilad is on the trackbed. At the eastern end, it would be good if it could be joined to the footpath which utilises the old railway bridge over the River Usk at Usk Island, otherwise users would face a busy A-road for the final mile or so into the town. The Woodland Trust was the main objector to the application but the Council’s tree officer said the impact of the development on trees along the route would be ‘low’. The current use of the line as farm access would continue with several refuges provided for walkers and cyclists, as concerns had been raised over bikes, pedestrians and cattle sharing some sections of the route. (Chris Parker)