Refresh for millennium mileposts

Work is getting underway on a programme to repaint and refurbish the much-loved millennium milepost waymarkers that line the route throughout the National Cycle Network.

At the turn of the millennium, 1,000 cast iron mileposts were installed at various locations along the near 13,000 miles that make up the National Cycle Network, the low traffic system of bike-friendly routes that runs across the country. 

Funded at the time by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the posts were designed by four artists, one from each of the nations that make up the UK. For Scotland, Glencoe’s Iain McColl was chosen. Belfast artist David Dudgeon designed on behalf of Northern Ireland with Swansea’s Andrew Rowe and Jon Mills from Brighton representing Wales and England respectively. 

The artworks were considered important as a way of encouraging people to become more active, either as a way of commuting or riding for leisure. They were put there to remind users to enjoy their journey, not just to see it as a way of getting from A to B.

The four separate designs were placed right around the network in all four corners of the UK – there’s even one as far north as Shetland.

They have grown to become a popular wayside sight. Many have been taken to heart by their local communities, over time becoming as significant as perhaps the old-style village telephone or pillar box. 

Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, acts as custodian of the network. It has produced an online map of the mileposts and encourages people to post photos to their social media accounts.

It was, however, inevitable that twenty-one years of exposure to the British climate would take a toll. Today, many of the once brightly-painted sculptures are in need of a little refurbishment.

Noticing the problem, Sustrans has decided to act. A volunteer programme has been set up and is already getting to work. An audit is being carried out across the entire network to identify those most in need of repair. Work on the renovations will take place throughout the summer months.

Katie Aartse-Tuyn is head of volunteering at Sustrans. Explaining the importance of the milestones project on their website, she writes: ‘The Millennium Mileposts connect us and represent the freedom we can all enjoy on the Network. This freedom is one that has been sorely missed during the pandemic over the past year.

‘We’re hopeful that this project will therefore bring joy to users of the National Cycle Network as restrictions continue to ease and we all start to enjoy spending more leisure time outside.’

Working together with people from their communities, the volunteers will soon be returning these important structures to their former glory, brightening the routes once again and ensuring they remain in place for many more years to come.

Photo Credit – Sustrans


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