A PIONEERING partnership has opened up a brand new network of 50 miles of off-road family-friendly cycling trails from The Devil’s Punch Bowl to Frensham, Puttenham, Elstead and Thursley.

South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt joined representatives of the partner organisations to celebrate the launch at The Devil’s Punch Bowl of ‘Cycle Surrey Hills’, a “first” for the county and hopefully the start of a larger network.

The opening of the five new trails coincided with Cycling UK’s Bike Week and the national charity worked with the organisations to develop the routes, which were funded by a grant of £19,000 from the London Marathon Charitable Trust (LMCT), plus additional money from We are Cycling UK and Surrey Hills Trust Fund.

The aim is to encourage more people to get active and experience the spectacular scenery of the Surrey Hills.

The five routes give cyclists the opportunity to choose either a long distance ride or shorter loops and points of interest along the way.

The new trails are the first phase in what is hoped will become an extensive network spreading out across the entire Surrey Hills, giving cyclists the opportunity to experience a long distance route across the county and beyond.

Mr Hunt said: “I am delighted to launch Cycle Surrey Hills in my constituency.

“The new routes will appeal to families as well as serious cyclists. Cycling not only provides tremendous health benefits but being outdoors in the landscape is also proven to benefit mental health.

“This is absolutely fantastic. I will have to get the kids up here.”

Special guest Olympic athlete Donna Fraser, who is a trustee of LMCT, said: “This is a great project for us, as it makes it easier for people to be active, enjoy off road cycling and take in the natural beauty of Surrey at the same time.

“It is exactly the kind of project that we’re delighted to be involved in.”

Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy added: “There’s a freedom to riding on the trails that no other type of cycling can deliver.

“Cycling UK is proud to have helped bring these new routes to light.

“We look forward to working on extending the network across the whole of the Surrey Hills and along the North Downs Way.”

The partnership is made up of the National Trust, Surrey County Council, Surrey Hills AONB Board, borough, town and parish council and local landowners

•Pick up the leaflet in local outlets or download online by visiting www.surreyhills.org