New traffic-free section of Strawberry Line opens in North Somerset

Built as part of the Hinkley Connection Project

This Road Safety Week, local people in the Sandford area of North Somerset are set to celebrate the opening of a new section of a popular heritage trail, constructed as part of National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project. 

People will be able to walk, bike and wheel their way along the Strawberry Line’s new Sandford Link from Saturday 25 November following the opening of the new traffic-free section of the route near the project’s infrastructure – including its distinctive new T-pylons. 

Built by National Grid as part of the construction of the new Sandford substation, and in partnership with North Somerset Council, the Sandford Link takes users from Station Road in Sandford north past the substation boundary to cross Drove Way and continue towards Yatton. Users now do not need to travel along the busy and narrow Nye Road. 

The opening marks the latest development for a route that has been undergoing transformation into a greenway since the early 1980s. It follows a 10-mile stretch of the former Cheddar Valley railway line, which was affectionately named by locals after the volume of locally grown strawberries that it carried to London and Birmingham markets. 

On Saturday, children from nearby Sandford Primary School will join National Grid and North Somerset Council’s Deputy Chairperson, Cllr Peter Crew, for a countdown and ribbon cutting, before making their way along the new path towards Sandford substation for refreshments, family activities and a raffle to raise funds for the school. 

I’m proud of our role in making this part of the Strawberry Line safer for everyone

Steven Haskayne, Project Director for National Grid, said: 

“We’ve been working alongside the community here in Sandford for a number of years on the Hinkley Connection Project and we’re delighted to complete and open the new Sandford Link, which routes the Strawberry Line away from busy Nye Road. 

“I’m proud of our role in making this part of the Strawberry Line safer for everyone and encouraging greener travel options. The Link is a direct result of public consultation and has been made possible thanks to the partnership between National Grid and North Somerset Council, which has worked with us from the very early stages to ensure the Hinkley Connection project could be used to make a lasting difference to local people long after our works are completed.” 

This will have a positive impact on the experience of thousands of people who visit the Strawberry Line every year

Cllr Mike Solomon, North Somerset Council’s executive member for culture and leisure, added:  

“It’s fantastic to see the new Strawberry Line Sandford Link opening. This will have a positive impact on the experience of thousands of people who visit the Strawberry Line every year. I urge people to visit and use this fantastic asset, whether to enjoy a cycle, walk, run or wheel and just generally enjoy being out in our beautiful countryside. 

“I’d like to take this opportunity to give some thanks – to National Grid for funding and delivering this quality scheme, to council officers who have worked tirelessly to make this happen, and lastly, but my no means least, to the many volunteers who help to maintain the Strawberry Line.” 

Sandford substation itself is at the heart of the Hinkley Connection Project and was energised earlier this year along with the first stretch of T-pylons. In August the construction of all T-pylons was completed when the final diamond-shaped insulator was installed on one of the structures between Yatton and Kenn – near the northern end of the Strawberry Line. 

Since construction began on the Hinkley Connection Project in 2018, £1.5 million has been granted to nearly 100 different local community initiatives through National Grid's Community Grant Programme – a scheme to support communities in areas where major projects are being developed. 

The project has also planted more than 2,500 trees, over 75,000 square metres of woodland and more than 20,000 metres of hedgerow along its route, to enhance the environmental landscape and achieve a net gain in biodiversity.