The Billy Trail £700,000 Miracle!

Do you believe in miracles? Well you should now – the Hayling Billy Trail is finally going to get the smooth, all-weather surface that Cycle Hayling has been campaigning for since we started, over a decade ago!

Hampshire County Council has just won a £600,000 grant for a smooth, all-weather surface from the bridge to at least the Esso garage car park. Cllr Lance Quantrill thinks it’s to the West Lane footpath, which we heard was phase II, but let’s hope he’s right.

And Hampshire and Havant Councils are jointly investing another £100,000 in a Feasibility Design for the whole Billy Trail, including looking at links towards the centre of the island. And where the current billy trail is at risk of being washed away by the sea, the new trail will divert slightly inland, with its own inland rock revetment to protect it from future erosion without impacting nature.

Cycle Hayling says this is wonderful news, not just for cyclists, but for walkers, the disabled, horse-riders and nature lovers. And for motorists, by getting cyclists off our narrow main road.


This is what we know so far:
  • Base layer will be recycled planings which HCC have saved from past road repairs.
  • Top surface will be smooth and weather-proof, sensitive to the natural surroundings, hopefully tar and chip like the Langstone section of the Billy Trail to blend in with nature.
  • Will have an adjacent ‘country path’, for walkers / horses, where there’s room.
  • Surface will try to take account of all stakeholder views, including walkers and horse riders.
  • Hampshire Countryside Services, who manage the Billy Trail, have agreed the principle, but maintenance will be Hampshire Highways. This is huge, because Hampshire Countryside Services have no money or expertise for maintenance, and Hampshire Highways have previously refused to take on maintenance for cycle paths!

A key issue will be gaining support from all users of the Billy Trail, not just cyclists. So it’s really important for all of us to demonstrate that we can share paths respectfully with other users. We hope that the new path will be wide enough to make that easier.

The Billy Trail was always a transport link – first The Puffing Billy railway line, from 1867 until the Beeching cuts in 1963. It then languished for 20 years, almost unusable, until 1984, when a group of Havant cyclists lobbied Havant and Hampshire Councils and persuaded Sustrans to transform it into a great cycle path, part of the National Cycle Network.

But with little maintenance, it’s been mostly downhill since then, with rough surfaces, mud, floods and erosion from the sea.

BUT …… The £600,000 came from Active Travel England’s round 4 Active Travel Funding, and only covers the first 1.2 kms – we’ll need much more, and the government has just slashed future Active Travel funding by two-thirds.

Please write to Alan Mak today, asking him to reverse the Active Travel cuts and get us the funding to finish the Billy Trail properly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *