Tree work begins on Ilfracombe cycleway

Posted on: 18 December 2015

Work begins next month to improve the Cairn to Lee Bridge cycleway in Ilfracombe.

In January, North Devon Council will be coppicing some trees along the footpath from Lee Bridge to the Cairn. Built on the old railway line linking Ilfracombe and Barnstaple, this section of the cycleway has suffered from wind blown trees over the last few winters. The coppicing will open up the path, allowing light to dry the surface and help some of the many species of wild flowers found along the verges. The work will also remove damaged trees and improve views down to the reservoirs.

Coppicing is an ancient form of woodland management where the tree is cut to ground level and allowed to re-grow for a number of years before starting the process again. Trees managed in this way can live for many centuries and would have been used in the days of steam railways to manage the track-side vegetation.

Executive Member responsible for parks and open spaces, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “The cycleway forms an important link in the Devon coast to coast cycleway joining the north and south coasts of the county. However, some of the trees are damaged and clearly need to come out, whilst others are growing in close proximity to the cycleway. We wanted to let people know that this is authorised and planned work, so they aren’t alarmed when they see trees being felled. Please follow any safety instructions from the contractors when walking, running or cycling along this section. We apologise in advance for any small delays caused by the work.”

Local ward member, Councillor Geoff Fowler, says: “I’m really pleased to see this work carried out over the winter period so that this heavily used recreational route has a chance to naturally recover and allow the smaller plants to re establish themselves. Opening up the vista to the reservoirs is also a bonus for folk who enjoy the wildlife around these man-made lakes.”

Local ward member, Councillor Ian Meadlarkin, says: “This cyclepath is really well used so it’s important to keep it clear and accessible. As it’s winter, the cycleway isn’t as busy as it gets in the summer months, so hopefully this work shouldn’t cause too much disruption for users.”

Work begins in January and will be finished by the end of February.

The Cairn is an historic woodland on the southern outskirts of Ilfracombe, owned and managed by North Devon Council, with the support of the Cairn Conservation Carers group.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Cairn Conservation Carers contact the council on 01271 388326 or email

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Posted in: Leisure