There are four proposed routes identified within the first phase of the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway:
The Valley of Stone is 16.5km long and connects Rawtenstall in the west to Waterfoot, Bacup and Whitworth to the Lancashire border with Rochdale at Healey Dell, as well as providing access to many employment sites along the Rossendale Valley. It is a largely off road route following a former railway line and when completed will provide a real sustainable travel alternative to using the busy roads which run along the main valley floor. The idea for the Valley of Stone has been put forward by the local community and although some sections are already open, the full potential of the route will only be realised once it is fully completed.
This route is mostly off road and runs in a roughly north-south direction from Accrington in the north to the Lancashire border at Stubbins near Ramsbottom in the south. It is 12km in length and also follows the line of a former railway, although large sections no longer exist such as around Haslingden. It has great potential for commuter use, especially to the employment areas on the west side of Haslingden close to the A56 and it will contribute towards the tourist economy by linking to the East Lancashire Railway and Irwell Sculpture Trail to the south. The route is also part of the wider National Cycle Network Route 6 that connects Watford to Keswick via Manchester and Preston.
The Weavers Wheel is a 26km route encircling Blackburn town centre and is based on a similar concept to the Preston Guild Wheel, which attracts nearly 100,000 cyclists a year. As well as the main wheel there will be spurs radiating out to key employment locations such as Samlesbury Enterprise Zone and Whitebirk and spokes into Blackburn Town Centre providing direct access to local employment, education, retail and leisure opportunities by bike.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are leading on delivering the Weavers Wheel.
The Huncoat Greenway scheme will provide an off road cycle route between Huncoat Village and Accrington. Three sections of the Greenway are already in place but the central part of the route is currently missing which affects how useful it is and limits the number of potential users. Completion of the greenway will provide cyclists and pedestrians with a continuous, safe, off road route just under 2km in length avoiding the busy A679 Burnley Road. The greenway will connect housing areas to Huncoat Industrial Estate, other employment sites and nearby schools.
Each of the 4 routes are different in terms of their characteristics, land ownership and the design issues they face. As a result the routes will be developed in sections and opened in stages leading to the completion of the overall network in 2019.
Some sections of the routes will require planning permission and/or listed building consent and there will be formal consultation on these sections.