Here’s the original description of the code disks from Sustrans. The text probably dates from 2001 or so:
On each of the posts are engraved metal discs with pictures and letters; these relate to the ubiquitous theme of Time and make up a kind of treasure hunt on bikes. For the truly dedicated puzzle addicts amongst you this will pose a considerable challenge to solve. If you don’t really want to go such extremes you can, by taking rubbings (place a sheet of paper over them and rub all over with a wax crayon or pencil) of the discs, keep a record of your journey and apply to Sustrans for special souvenirs called Time Treasures.
Throughout the Time Trail you will find a number of themes. The ancient elements of Fire, Earth, Air, Water and the Ether are intertwined in the designs, whilst the seasons, the zodiac and the history of the last twenty centuries are the common threads that connect the Time Trail images together. Ingredients of ancient philosophy, time and space, astronomy, alchemy and molten metal are thrown together into the melting pot and stirred by the users of the National Cycle Network in their quest to solve some of the mysteries of Time.
You won’t have to travel all over the country to collect the engravings however as Sustrans have divided the country up into 9 regions and placed at least 2 copies of each Time Trail symbol in every region. Mileposts will be arranged so that the first two sets can often be collected during a single ride near a large town.
The symbols when placed on the record card spell out a message revealing the secret of the Time Trail.
A record card can be obtained from Sustrans with instructions on how to do this.
When I contacted Sustrans this summer (July 2015), they initially didn’t remember the project, but a kind spokesperson did some investigation and replied as follows:
I made some enquiries about the Millennium Time Trail and this is what I found out. The mysterious Time Trail is one of our old projects, it was launched in 2001.
There are 6 different sets of discs (of varying amounts in each set, which is displayed in the upper left outside the triangle) 5 normal sets and the 6th “rare” set. I think we’ve only had one person to complete the challenge over the years.
As it was a Millennium project, I believe there were supposed to be 1000 mileposts across the UK, but we only can see 858 current records on our database, 27 of these we don’t have grid reference for. While some have been removed over time, and as local authorities were responsible for installing sadly they might still be adorning council depots.
Here are the four pages of the Sustrans leaflet:
Sustrans have kindly provided a copy of the old Record Card:
You can download this from this link:
Five series, 50 designs – and more
There are five series containing fifty different designs.
- T1 – set of four – “The Seasons”
- T2 – set of six – “The Continents”
- T3 – set of eight – “The Ages of Man”
- T4 – set of twelve – “The Signs of the Zodiac”
- T5 – set of twenty – “The Centuries”
But there’s also a mysterious “sixth set of disks” which contain the final part of the puzzle.