A popular section of the National Cycle Network along a disused railway line closed on Sunday as work got underway to convert it back into a functioning railway line.
The 14 mile route formed the central section of National Cycle Network Route 75 - a cross Scotland route linking the Clyde Coast with the Firth of Forth - established by sustainable transport charity Sustrans. The conversion of the trail back to its original use is part of a £300 million project to restart rail services between Airdrie and Bathgate.
Network Rail will construct a new path close to the original route, which is scheduled for completion in December 2010. As a a temporary alternative until the new path is built, Sustrans, the body behind the National Cycle Network is recommending cyclists and walkers use the towpaths of the Union and Forth and Clyde Canals as a cross-Scotland route. The canal is shortly to become Route 754 of the National Cycle Network.
Sustrans' National Cycle Network Development Manager for Scotland Katharine Taylor said: "As a charity focusing on sustainable transport we are very pleased that Network Rail has decided to reinstate train services between Airdrie and Bathgate, even though it means we will temporarily lose a central section of Route 75.
"People have really enjoyed walking and cycling along here because of the lovely views over the Central Scotland Plateau and former coal mining areas, which give a sense of what this part of Scotland might have been like in its industrial heyday. Hopefully the new route will provide an equally enjoyable leisure route and important community link."
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Network Rail recognises the importance of the route to cyclists and the local communities it serves and apologises for any inconvenience caused during its relocation."
Sustrans has posted extensive details of alternative routes for walkers and cyclists during the route closure on its website www.sustrans.org.uk
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.