Tywi Valley Path
The Carmarthenshire towns of Carmarthen and Llandeilo are among the oldest, most culturally historic in Wales and are thriving in the 21st Century; linked through the ages by the meandering, vibrant running waters of the River Tywi and then in modern times by the A48.
Now an exciting new project is underway with the former redundant railway track between these two market towns being brought back to life as a major leisure and visitor attraction. Providing a traffic free pathway through one of the most scenic areas of Wales, it will follow an almost adjacent route to that of the River Tywi as it flows from Llandeilo to Carmarthen on its way to Carmarthen Bay. The path will cost between £12 and £14.5million, and a strong set of partners and stakeholders are being formed with funding in place from Welsh Government and the council.
It will link with major tourist attractions along the route generating an estimated £860,000 to £2million in the local economy every year as well as creating and supporting between 17 and 41 full-time jobs. It will also give people a sustainable and healthy travel option, connecting with villages between the two main towns.
The scheme has been broken down into distinct phases; the western end (between Abergwili and Nantgaredig) has been divided into four sections. The eastern phase from Nantgaredig to Ffairfach has yet to be determined in terms of distinct sections. Depending on the final design and the linking options at each end, the Tywi Valley Path will be around 16 miles long.
The path will be shared between walkers and cyclists, but equestrian use may be permitted subject to further investigation on locations and if it is practical and safe.
Read our FAQs for further information on the Tywi Valley Path...
Works to support the planning application for the eastern section are ongoing. Ecological and Geomorphological surveys have been undertaken over the summer with the Planning Pre Application Consultation (PAC) anticipated to be held in the Autumn 2020. A Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) consultation has recently been undertaken on the scheme. 1690 surveys were completed as part of the public consultation element of the WelTAG process with 91% of surveys returned in support of the scheme. Our officers continue to liaise with landowners on the scheme and to secure lands via negotiation to enable construction to progress.
Depending on the final design, which has not yet been finalised, including linking options at each end, the route would be approximately 16 miles long.
Further work is required to determine this as it depends on the final design, significant construction features such as the river crossings and any other structures and land costs. Current estimated costs are between £12 and £14.5million.
The path will be opened in stages, depending on land acquisitions and funding. Section W1 in Abergwili and on-highway improvements on Section W2 (the U2183 from Bwlch Bach to Fronun) have been completed and are open for public use. We are committed to delivering this scheme in the shortest timescale that funding / land negotiations allow.
We have received Welsh Government Local Transport Fund and Active Travel Fund grants. Further money has been secured through Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. These grants have contributed towards scheme development and works completed to date. A number of other funding sources are being identified and various grant applications are being prepared and submitted.
Yes, planning has already been secured for the western section, and work is ongoing to compile the information required for the eastern planning application.
The shared use path is mainly 3 metres wide and will be constructed using a variety of surfaces suitable for its use and the surroundings.
At the moment the plans are for walkers and cyclists only; the possibility of allowing equestrian use will be the subject of further investigation to determine any locations where this might be desirable, practical and safe for all users including equestrians / horses.
The path will cross the River Cothi about 700m east of Nantgaredig near Abercothi House. The River Tywi crossing is a further 900m along the path and is to the North East of Bremenda Isaf. There will be a smaller river bridge crossings along the length of the path.
The preferred process would be for council officers to meet with individual landowners and come to an agreement based on the specific section, which meets the needs and reasonable requirements relating to the land in question. This is intended to be beneficial to both parties and can often deliver more favourable terms so is preferable to the CPO process, although that option could also be used if necessary.
These will be of various types and designs to suit individual circumstances and specific needs at the relevant location. These could also be by agreement with the landowner to permit working arrangements, whilst still allowing full and unrestricted access by path users. Access controls may involve bollards, chicanes, gates, stock control and others.
No, whilst the path may cross over a land holding, the land to each side will not be severed. Access for the landowner can be maintained to suit the particular needs, by agreement.
The scheme has been broken down into distinct sections on the western end (between Abergwili and Nantgaredig) where four sections W1-4 have been identified. Section W1 and W2 have been completed and opened for public use. The eastern phase from Nantgaredig to Ffairfach has yet to be determined in terms of distinct sections.
Any design will be future proofed with regards to river movements through careful engineering assessment and liaison with land owners and NRW to identify/agree the necessary/acceptable measures to protect the installation.
A scoping report assessing a number of potential on and off road options was undertaken by consultants, It was concluded to utilise wherever possible the route of the old railway line. It is noted that former railway lines make excellent routes for walking and cycling paths, being direct already established continuous transport routes connecting communities. They are reasonably level with gentle gradients, and also have a good base for construction. The links into the community/urban centres at each end and along the route are subject to further feasibility work and options are being investigated.
It is unlikely the route will be subject to lighting along its length other than urban sections and/or at road crossings.
Shared use paths are ideal places to enjoy travelling or taking exercise in the fresh air in a naturally safe environment away from traffic. Road crossings will be designed to ensure good visibility and slower speeds, with lighting if appropriate. Considerate use by all is encouraged. We will also be working with the emergency services and partners such as the Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership to not only hold safety of users at the front end of and design decisions but also to incorporate infrastructure that provides better access to the river for emergency services.
An economic case for the path has been developed which derives an estimated level of demand from similar schemes undertaken elsewhere in the UK; current projected numbers are in the region of 70,000 visitors per year.
A number of locations are being considered as entry points / hubs which will incorporate additional facilities such as parking/rest/picnic areas; these will be primarily at or near points where the path meets the public highway, or other public rights of way. Other access may be available by agreement with landowners. The access point for Section W1 which is now open for use is next to the museum in Abergwili where there are 25 parking spaces available for path users.
The dismantled railway is generally on a slight embankment, which offers protection from flooding on certain levels. The construction of the path does not generally alter the ground profile so although further work is to be done on this, it would not be expected to have any impact on flooding, but it is recognised as with other cycle routes and indeed major bridges there will be occasions where it will be closed due to extreme weather events. The design will incorporate appropriate signage and safety measures to allow for this.
We recognise the important role fishing plays in the Tywi Valley and will be working closely with landowners and fishing groups to not only minimise potential disturbance to sensitive areas but wherever possible to provide improvements to allow for improved accessibility and safer access for fishing and maintenance purposes.
Good initial design with appropriate specification and features can minimise the need for maintenance. Initial vegetation maintenance during the construction phase, along with the chosen surfacing will ensure a long maintenance-free period and minimal input thereafter, contributing to a low whole-life costing. Carmarthenshire County Council is making a commitment to maintain the asset alongside investigating the possibility of setting up local volunteer groups to assist.
Environmental and ecological reports and surveys have been undertaken at an early stage so designs can not only minimise/eliminate impact on sensitive locations but also provide environmental enhancement where possible. Furthermore, the scheme is subject to strict planning requirements with regards to environmental matters.
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