An exciting new 250 mile on-road cycle route covering the length of the South of Scotland has received the green light to progress to delivery stage.
The Coast to Coast route will run from Stranraer to Eyemouth, making it one of the longest in the UK and a new challenge for experienced cyclists.
Walking and cycling routes can deliver significant economic, environmental and community benefits, and early projections are that the new South of Scotland Coast to Coast route could attract up to 175,000 new visitors to the region, with a direct spend of £13.7million per year.
The project is aiming to be delivered in time for the 2023 UCI World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland.
Three of the 13 Championships are taking place in the South of Scotland in August next year, allowing visitors to the South to try the new route during or after the Championships.
Riders who want to test themselves can tackle the Coast to Coast Challenge route over four days but are highly recommended to slow down, immerse themselves and enjoy more of what the South of Scotland has to offer by completing the Explorer route over eight days or more.
The project is being delivered by members of the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership, including South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), Dumfries & Galloway and Scottish Borders councils, South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), Sustrans Scotland and VisitScotland.
SOSE has committed almost £350,000 to the project to allow it to be delivered to this stage, with partners are working together to identify what additional investment is required to ensure the route delivers for the South of Scotland.
Works are currently ongoing on designing the delivery stage, but partners will be engaging with local communities, businesses and stakeholders in the coming months to raise awareness of upcoming opportunities and gather opinions on how best to maximise the impact from this new tourism offering.
The Coast to Coast announcement follows the launch of the first ever South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy in September, which aims to ensure cycling becomes the most popular choice for shorter, everyday journeys by 2032.
The Strategy also has a vision for the region to be recognised as Scotland’s leading cycling destination and a world-class cycling destination of excellence.
Councillor Scott Hamilton, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said:
“The development of this route could deliver very significant benefits to communities all the way from Eyemouth to Stranraer and we continue to work closely with the partners involved to bring it to fruition.
“It is through initiatives such as this that we can really build upon the region’s cycling heritage and already significant reputation for cycling and truly make the South of Scotland the ‘Home of the Bike’.”
Chairman of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, Councillor Archie Dryburgh, and Vice-Chairman Cllr John Campbell, said in a joint statement:
“Cycling is at the heart of a lot in Dumfries and Galloway. By linking up with the Scottish Borders and our other partners, we are expanding our offer to cyclists to come to the South of Scotland.
“There is affordable accommodation on the route, local cycle shops to help lend a hand and plenty to do and see on the route.
“Dumfries and Galloway Council has a long-standing relationship with cycling and this is another cog in that wheel.”
Tourism Minister Ivan McKee said:
“The South of Scotland is already recognised as a destination that offers a wide range of experiences and activities for visitors including walking and cycling.
“The creation of the Coast to Coast cycling route will support the Scottish Government’s ambition of delivering economic, environmental and community benefits to our regions through sustainable tourism.
“The route is part of the momentum building towards the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in August, which is bringing three of the 13 Championships to the South of Scotland, and encouraging participation in cycling across the region.”
Trudy Lindblade, CEO of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships added:
“Ahead of the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships coming to Glasgow and Scotland next year it’s so exciting to see this investment in new cycling infrastructure.
“The Coast to Coast cycle route will allow locals and visitors to the South of Scotland to use the power of the bike to enjoy the natural beauty of the region.”
VisitScotland Regional Director Annique Armstrong said:
“The South of Scotland, with its abundance of biking trails and road routes, is already a popular destination for cycling enthusiasts.
“The creation of this cycling route will help strengthen the south’s cycling offer and inspire many more visitors to the region, supporting the recovery of the tourism industry while promoting sustainable travel experiences to the benefit of visitors, communities and our environment.
“As we countdown to next year’s UCI Cycling World Championships, with the region set to host key events, there is no better time to celebrate the power of the bike and ensure it plays a greater part in strengthening the economy of the south.”
South of Scotland Enterprise Chair, Professor Russel Griggs, added:
“We see cycling as a massive opportunity for our region, which brings so many benefits.
“This is why the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy was launched in September, and why partners are also working together on the hugely exciting Coast to Coast project.
“It is fantastic to confirm this project can now take place, which we believe can help stimulate post-Covid recovery of the tourism and hospitality sectors in the South of Scotland through encouraging visiting cyclists to explore our fantastic region.
“We look forward to engaging with communities in the coming months.”
Melanie Allen, Interim Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA), said:
“We are delighted to be showcasing this new exciting 250-mile cycle route to our extensive audience of visitors, through our regional brand and website – Scotland Starts Here.
“The route will help visitors discover the depth and breadth of the South of Scotland in a sustainable way. From spectacular scenery and wide open spaces to fantastic accommodation, restaurants and attractions, there is so much to explore.
“This type of slower immersive travel will contribute significantly, right into the heart of the local economy and will create memorable experiences that inspire visitors to return to the South of Scotland year after year.”