The Stratford-upon-Avon to Long Marston Greenway is an important leisure amenity where everyone can relax, walk, run, cycle, picnic, exercise dogs and ride horses in a traffic-free environment.
It is also a valuable green space, wildlife corridor and part of a National Cycle Route and a major tourist attraction in Stratford, drawing many visitors from home and abroad.
Experience its charms for yourself, as it is free for all to use, seven days a week (apart from reasonable car parking charges).
The Greenway stretches for around 5½ miles, from the bridge over the River Avon on Seven Meadows Road, past the car park, and along the dismantled railway bed to Station Road, Long Marston – see the map below:
However, for most users, the Greenway starts at the Wetherby Way car park and stretches for around 4.7 miles to Station Road – please use CV37 6GR to find it in a sat nav. The essential features of the Greenway are as follows:
It is a surfaced path suitable for cyclists, walkers, families, people exercising their dogs and wheelchair users.
There are picnic areas and two cafés along the route.
It is traffic-free, but crosses a minor road and some farm paths along the way.
There is a permissive bridleway between Milcote Road and Long Marston.
The Greenway is part of National Cycle Route 5 that Sustrans describes as a long distance route connecting Reading and Holyhead via Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bromsgrove, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Colwyn Bay and Bangor. It links with Route 41 to provide access to the whole of the National Cycle Network.
The Greenway connects with many footpaths and bridleways that provide routes around the Stratford district and beyond, to provide a network for outdoor activities.
The National Biodiversity Network Gateway records many protected species within 2 km either side of the Greenway such as adder, common lizard, great crested newt, otter, water vole and ten species of bats. It also notes that the absence of a species from their list does not mean it is not present in this area.
The Greenway provides a corridor for wildlife into Stratford and Long Marston and brings people and the natural environment closer together.
SGG sees the Greenway as an essential recreational and environmental area that requires care and protection. Our greatest concern is the proposal to reopen the uneconomic Honeybourne Line railway of the 1970s, between Stratford-upon-Avon Town Station and Honeybourne Station, along a route that includes Summerton Way and the Greenway.
This is not solving a pressing problem, it has no viable business case and originates with campaigners who would not suffer the consequences of building this railway.
We have kept a watching brief on the rail supporters who are pressing for the reinstatement of the railway since 2011. Their constant chipping away seems to be unduly influencing decision-makers.
There was the inconclusive and muddled Ove Arup Grip 3 Report; calls to spend £500k on a GRIP 4 technical study for a destructive route through Stratford Town; and the forthcoming economic impact report funded by the rail supporters.
Warwickshire County Council own most of the land upon which the Greenway stands and Warwickshire Country Parks operate it on their behalf. The official stance of the County Council to remain neutral on the reopening of the railway has unfortunately not prevented some councillors from expressing their support for the Honeybourne Line.
We feel it is vital to conserve this treasure, in the same way as the two other greenways in Warwickshire, at Kenilworth and Offchurch, and the Ufton Fields Nature Reserve in Leamington Spa, and save it from development as a railway or any other transport link.
SGG are now taking action to influence Stratford District Council, Warwickshire County Council and other organisations, to make decisions acceptable to the whole community.