Get on your bike to see more of the Billy Trail as new section opens

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IT WAS once a vital railway route taking tourists into the heart of an island community.

Now the tourists and nature lovers are using two wheels to travel the Hayling Billy Trail.

The latest section of the popular cycle path has been opened by Havant MP David Willetts, who counts it amongst his favourite places to head out on his bicycle with his family.

The five-mile route takes cyclists, walkers and horseriders all the way from Havant town centre along the stunning Hayling coastal path to the Station Theatre, in Station Road, at the bottom of the island, close to the ferry port.

Mr Willetts said: 'It was an extremely successful launch.

'There were about 100 people there which reveals how much support there is for this kind of project.

'It really is great to see another part of the Hayling Billy Trail opening and we are all going to keep plugging away to get it complete.

'It is a favourite with my family. I'm a keen cyclist so I use it for cycling but my wife uses it to walk the dog. It's a safe route that takes us all the way from our house in the centre of Havant.

'There are two small sections missing, north and south of Hayling bridge, and I was talking to the commodore of Langstone Sailing Club and it is hoped that we can agree a route through the sailing club.'

The new route runs between Langstone Avenue, across the A3023, coming out just north of the Langstone Sailing Club.

Phase two of the trail was paid for by Havant Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity which has so far helped put together 12,000 mile National Cycle Network.

Councillor Jenny Write, who is in charge of transport in Havant, said: 'I was very impressed with the turnout. About two or three dozen cyclists came up on their bikes, including David Willetts, and there were walking groups too.

'It just seems a shame that it has taken eight years to complete. Given this shift towards more sustainable travel we are chomping at the bit to complete it.'

The old Hayling Billy railway line was closed in the 1960s because of the increasing cost of maintaining the timber trestle bridge by which the Hayling Billy Line crossed from the mainland to Hayling Island.