New Gem Bridge photos

I’ve been forwarded new photos of Gem Bridge, as well as photos of Grenofen tunnel, by Mad Scientist. I was really glad of these pics, as sadly I’ve not had the opportunity to cycle out to Gem Bridge for some time, and the last update on the Devon County Council site was back in January.

Anyway, enough talk, here are the pics:

Ashmill bridge, before Tavistock. The abutments to this structure are listed,
which makes rebuilding it a bit more tricky. Clearly they haven’t started rebuilding it yet.

Gem Bridge looking towards Horabridge. The slope in the foreground very recently was
a service road for heavy earthmoving equipment

A view of the bridge deck. Can I be a spoilsport here and ask you NOT to climb up
onto the bridge? It is still a construction site and may not be safe

The track leading towards Grenofen tunnel.

Grenofen tunnel, as seen from the Horabridge side. They have done
extensive clearing of vegetation – it used to be very overgrown!

A close-up of the Horabridge tunnel mouth

The view from Gem Bridge

10 thoughts on “New Gem Bridge photos”

  1. Hi Chris,
    I have no straight answer to that, I'm afraid. While Gem Bridge itself is very nearly completed, I was told that they'd be resurfacing the path from Horabridge to Gem Bridge, giving it a sealed surface. I've also been told that (quite understandably) they won't do that until there is no more need for construction vehicles to drive down the path.
    I cannot see it *officially* being opened until that has happened.

    My guess is it would not open at least until mid-May, though I must stress that this is only a guess.

  2. Not being to clear on the geography on the tavi side of gem bridge, once the bridge is open where do bikers go from there. I can't imagine the route through the tunnel will be up and running at the same time as the bridge opening. Great blog keep up the good work.

  3. Hi,
    Currently the route remains exactly the same as it was before, with the only difference being that you won't have to drop down into the valley first, before ascending the steep uphill on the opposite side.

    The short version is as follows:
    Once over the bridge, continue uphill for a little while, until you get to the area where the construction offices still are. The original path veered left here, and you should do the same. You'll find yourself on a wooden path for a while, which is mostly level, but before long the path will head uphill again.
    When near the top of the hill, the path will veer left, before heading downhill again. The path surface along this section isn't the best.
    As you get to the floodplain of the Walkham, there will be a gate to go through, and then immediately after the path will turn sharp right. A short while later you will find yourself passing through a final gate before ending up on a tarred road. Turn right on this road and follow it all the way up the steep hill, until you get to a T-junction, where you must turn left.
    Follow the road you will have turned onto all the way, until you again get to a T-junction, where you will need to turn right. After having turned right, follow the road into Tavistock.

    I have a detailed description under the "Plym Valley & Drake's Trail tab near the top of the page, which I will update to remove all temporary diversions as soon as Gem Bridge is fully open.

    The tunnel route I expect will still take several months, given that they haven't even started rebuilding Ashmill bridge yet.

  4. Many thanks for this. So all we need now is to club together a couple of quid and purchase the land from clearbrook through to Yelverton 😉

    Hey we can only but dream!!

  5. Now wouldn't that be great! A cycle path that completely follows the old railway, through the tunnel under Yelverton and all the way through Horrabridge. Sadly so many houses have been built on the land it will never happen.

  6. I did ask the question about Yelverton Tunnel but the likely hood of Sustrans getting the land is shall we say slim if fact dam near anorexic. but as you rightly say Festivalking it would be nice. I have ridden through Yelverton Tunnel and what a ride it was all 641yds of it.

  7. Wow! That must've been a blast! 🙂
    I'm seriously jealous.

    The trouble isn't even the Yelverton tunnel, but rather the people who extended their gardens onto the old track bed at Clearbrook. In one of the gardens the old track is completely blocked by a shed.

    Think about that for a moment: Because ONE household will not move their shed, EVERYBODY loses out on a better route!

  8. Well certainly the horrabridge side is blocked but after the tunnel surly a diversion through a farmers field would not be a miss. Also I heard the owners of yelverton station are not in any kind of mood to sell up, let alone allow people onto the land. Also just south of yelverton I note that the embankment has been landscaped into gardens. And that shed yeah seen that laughable really.

    Apart from land issues south of tavi what is going on futher north with the granite trail. There was a report on spotlight explaining a 1 mile section has still not been brought by the council or anyone for that matter leading to a nasty direction!

  9. I think we'll just have to accept the route between Clearbrook & Yelverton as it is. I really cannot see it being changed at all. Laughable, like you rightly said.

    I believe you're referring to the stretch between Bearslake viaduct and the old Lydford station. I've been reliably informed that negotiations between Devon CC and the landowners broke down, and that Devon CC is currently pursuing a compulsory purchase order. I've also been told they are very confident of this going through, and that work will start soon after the legal mess has been resolved.

    Sadly that may still take ages yet!

    Following after this, or perhaps parallel to it, I believe the section between Hatherleigh and Meeth has now become the next top priority.

    If you've ever cycled on the A386 between Meeth (pretty much the end of the Tarka Trail) and Hatherleigh, you will know how scary it is when large HGVs thunder past, inches away, on the narrow, twisty road. There is of course an alternative, via Petrockstowe and Sheepwash, but that is far longer and far more hilly.

    Continuing the trail along the old railway for about another two miles will take you to just outside Hatherleigh, and get you there without the need to go over any steep hills. Of course, the old railway bridge over the A386 will need to be rebuilt, but we live in hope!

    Given that Devon CC is also opening the old railway track between Willingcott and Knowle, as well as taking into account the new traffic-free path linking Knowle with Braunton, there would be an almost entirely traffic-free route from the top of Ilfracombe to just outside Hatherleigh.
    From Hatherleigh it is pretty much back lanes to Okehampton, before picking up the Granite Way to Lydford. Back lanes from Lydford to Tavistock is another, and final on-road section, before picking up Drake's Trail all the way into Plymouth.

    Overall, out of a route of more than 100 miles, only about 20 miles won't be traffic-free (ignoring the in-town sections!)and that is pretty good going!

    Slightly annoying to me is that Sustrans seems to get all the credit, when in fact Graham Cornish from Devon CC almost singlehandedly deserves the credit. That man had a vision, and little-by-little he has been assembling it, and turning it into a reality! What a legacy to leave behind!


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