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Historic structure outside Winchester had lain disused for half a century

Dani King, who last week helped Great Britain defend the world team pursuit title at the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, was back on her bike today to open a cycle path across a former railway viaduct in her home county of Hampshire.

The Hockley Viaduct, which runs alongside the M3 just outside Winchester, was built in the 1880s but the last train rolled across it half a century ago as the line it was part of fell victim to the Beeching cuts.

A campaign group, Friends of Hockley Viaduct, has been fighting to preserve it for three decades, and Julia Sanderson of the group described today’s reopening as “"wonderful after so many years," reports BBC News Hampshire.

The viaduct, which is 614 metres long with 33 spans, was refurbished at a cost of £1 million, funded by Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council and Sustrans.

It will now form part of National Cycle Route 23, which runs from Reading to the Isle of Wight.

King, who won gold in the team pursuit at London 2012 and joined the new Wiggle Honda team for the 2013 season, said: "It means a lot to me to get more people on bikes and keeping fit and healthy locally. It's great to have such a long cycle route off-road."

There have been some concerns expressed recently over access to the viaduct for those who arrive by car, however, as many visitors to the viaduct, including walkers, are likely to do.

According to a report in the Hampshire Chronicle earlier this month, motorists heading into Winchester are using parking spaces at a nearby layby, leaving their cars there and share with others to continue their journey into the city.

That’s despite the fact that according to a report from Winchester City Council, commuters are able to use there is a park and ride that meets that need, and also avoids visitors to the viaduct finding that there is nowhere to park in the layby.

In order to stop commuters from using the layby, the councils portfolio holder for planning and transport, Vicki Weston, has been asked to consider putting in place a maximum waiting time of four hours, with no return for eight hours, between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Saturday.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

8 comments

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a.jumper [846 posts] 3 years ago
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Am I reading the map right? It connects a park to a motorway junction roundabout with no cycle facilities? And so the route takes a kilometre detour north and south to cross at another roundabout. I think there's still some work to do, sadly.

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Simon_MacMichael [2452 posts] 3 years ago
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Sustrans mapping not the best... it does appear to link up with Sustrans off-road routes at both ends,so you don't have to ride on the roundabout you mention.

The map needs updating though, at least some parts currently shown as proposed are now operational. Don't have a Sustrans release, but BBC report vaguely suggested this might be last link in the route?

Not really seeing the kilometre detour you mention, though... it isn't a straight line, and there are some deviations, but nothing that big?

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a.jumper [846 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh well, maybe someone can update opencyclemap/cyclestreets soon. I'll ride it when I get chance, but Winchester isn't one of my usual areas and South West Trains were a bit rubbish with bikes last I tried.

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Marko Le Rosso [11 posts] 3 years ago
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The junction for the motorway, runs underneath the motorway. Might have a bimble up there one morning.

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Doctor Fegg [143 posts] 3 years ago
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Manton69 [5 posts] 3 years ago
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The junction that is bypassed here is junction 11 of the M3. The path joins the road from Otterbourne and takes you on a new dedication path in to the centre of Winchester, which is far better than the road to get there. You do have to cross a dual carrigeway leading to the motorway junction, but that is far better than trying to go around it. The main drawback is that this is a shared path and can get busy at times.

Here is the map from the Sustrans site and it appears to be accurate (I live within 1km of the viaduct and use this route in to Winchester regularly)

http://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-we-do/national-cycle-network/route-numbe...

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peaham [2 posts] 3 years ago
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Chaps. I'm the Sustrans Ranger for this section - and proud of it! It's a great moment for us and cycling in general, as well as opening up views for the less mobile.

I can add nothing useful to the article, it's fine as it goes. The informal car share referred to is a problem not confined to these laybys or even Winchester as a whole.

Answering from the top:
a.jumper: yes, you do read it right but it's not bad as detours go and has great views over the city and St Cross. I measure it as half a km.

I'm sorry about your experience with SWT. I don't usually have a problem as they carry bikes free and without booking and often have plenty of space my way - I know the situation is different nearer London- and can usually even blag my way on to XCountry.

Simon_Macmichael: nothing's perfect and, hey, give Sustrans Mapping time, though of course, they did know about it. There were several representatives from the CEO down to me. The current arrangement gives a refuged crossing at a RB where traffic has slowed from the M3. Still not ideal but loads better.
While I am subject to correction from above I believe the position is that yes, this is the PENULTIMATE link. Just down the road NCR23 peters out until Otterbourne but in fact is quite good and safe andcan be used continuously. Id be happy to take a young family.

Good cycling to all.

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zok27 [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I'll certainly be taking my young family to Winchester to ride the new route. There are so few of this kind of path in the UK. Which is why we go to France on our holidays to make use of their superb cycle ways, which are shared with pedestrians, roller skaters etc... Without any problems.
If Councils invest in this kind of facility then I'm pretty sure people will come and use it, but it needs to be accessible and integrated not piece meal. That will take a lot of commitment and bravery on their part!