The Elmet Greenway is a proposed safe walking, cycling and horseriding route along sections of the former Leeds to Wetherby railway.

The vision

Elmet Greenway is a proposed route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. It will follow the former railway line from Cross Gates rail station and shopping centre via John Smeaton Centre and Scholes to Thorner and eventually, we hope, to Wetherby.

The project is a Leeds City Council initiative, but is supported by Elmet Greenway Group which has recently obtained charitable status.

At present Sustrans, the charity which promotes cycling and walking as a means of transport, is updating a feasibility study first carried out in 2008, which is expected to be completed in autumn this year. Following this there will be a public consultation.

The mission of the Elmet Greenway Group is to promote healthy recreation for the benefit of the public by developing and maintaining a safe, sustainable and accessible walking, cycling and horse-riding route, and this is the basis of our charitable status. The word "accessible" means we aim to include people with limited mobility in the potential users of the Greenway. We also aim to maintain the verges and embankments as a variety of habitats to encourage wildlife, and to provide educational opportunities by siting information boards about history and nature along the route.

The route will provide direct off-road access to John Smeaton Academy and the Sports Centre, giving an opportunity for young people to get to these places independently of their parents, and to get more exercise on the way. It will also shorten the distance from both Cross Gates and Scholes.

To the north, the crossing of York Road by means of the cutting under the road bridge will give safe access to the countyside for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, forming links with the existing footpath and bridleway network. At present, there is no safe way to cross York Road. Could you cross it on a horse or with a push-chair?

The surface of the Greenway will depend on the traffic using it as well as the state of the drainage and subsoil. Some of it would need to be tarmac or an alternative hard surface, but in other parts "hoggin" or gravel could be adequate for cycling and buggies. A softer surface can be provided for horses. This will be detailed in the feasibility study, along with an appraisal of alternative routes.

There will be lots of work to do maintaining the habitat. For those who enjoy getting to grips with the natural environment, there will be new skills to learn and exercise for the arms and upper body. Hedges need laying, brambles have to be kept under control, and other habitats like wetlands and coppice could be created. Eventually we will create a "wildlife corridor" including Saw Wood and Chippies Pond for everyone to share with the wildlife.

To see an existing Greenway, why not go to Allerton Bywater and look at the Lines Way, or to Wetherby and look at the route to Thorpe Arch?