PLANS for a historic two-mile countryside walk and cycle route next to the city centre have taken a step forward.
The project is seeking to re-open the Coventry Loop Line as part of the Charterhouse Heritage Park plans.
The Loop Line was a freight-only railway line which opened in 1914 to enable trains to avoid going through the busy Coventry station and instead using the goods stations at Bell Green and Gosford Green.
The land surrounding the line has been bought by conservation organisation Historic Coventry Trust.
The trust aims to re-open the southern three-quarter mile of the Loop Line as a countryside walk and cycle route.
It says it will be an integral part of the 70-acre Heritage Park which is being created around the 14th century Charterhouse off London Road in the city centre.
It has taken the trust five years to negotiate with private owners but the deal is expected to be completed this month.
Mark Ratcliffe, head of estates at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and a trustee at Historic Coventry Trust, said: “The Coventry Loop Line has an important story to tell in the area’s history because it served local industries on the Coventry-Nuneaton and Coventry-Rugby Lines for decades.
“To link Gosford Green and the Charterhouse would be fantastic since these two sites are still historically important and they are from a time in history which intrigued William Shakespeare.
“We think that re-opening the Coventry Loop Line would be a wonderful countryside walk into the city centre which not many towns or cities can provide.”
The planned two-mile circular route has significant historical value since it will provide a direct link between The Charterhouse which was founded by King Richard II in 1385 and Gosford Green.
It was here where ‘the duel that never was’ took place in 1398 between Henry Bolingbroke, later Henry IV, and Thomas Mowbray, the first Duke of Norfolk, which started the War of the Roses and resulted in Richard losing the crown and his life.
The wildlife rich disused railway line starts next to the Sherbourne Viaduct which was designed by renowned rail engineer Robert Stephenson on the world’s first inter-city railway in 1838.
As freight and coal traffic declined, the branch line totally closed in 1981 and the track was removed in 1982 with much of the former track bed having been built over as part of the A444 Phoenix Way.
Mr Ratcliffe added: “The route is now full of trees, shrubs and wildlife and we will be working with The Woodland Trust and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust because it is a locally designated wildlife site.
“We are also in discussions with Coventry City Council to provide a cycle route along the entire route.
“But we now need to raise £150,000 to turn our ideas into reality and would encourage anyone interested in helping to get in touch because this is a really exciting project.”
The route does not include the bridge over Terry Road which is still owned by Network Rail, although the trust is working on plans to restore the bridge and incorporate it into the walk.
Anyone interested in making a donation or helping with fundraising activities should email email@example.com.