The press release from March 2001

The Time Trail Clock Starts Ticking

20 March 2001

A puzzling treasure hunt with a secret code to crack and a unique prize for those who can solve the riddle. That is how the transport charity Sustrans describes the Millennium Time Trail. It is a new feature of the National Cycle Network which is officially launched today at 9.00am on March 20th 2001, the Spring Equinox, at ‘The Home of Time’, the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

There are 1,000 cast-iron Millennium Mileposts, donated by The Royal Bank of Scotland, along the UK’s National Cycle Network, a Millennium Commission project supported by £43.5m of National Lottery Funds. Each milepost has a Time Trail disc bearing symbols and hieroglyphics bolted into it. By taking rubbings of these discs it is possible to gains clues to help decipher the code. There are several layers to uncover to reach the solution and a special Ultimate Prize for those who can work it out. For many, especially children and families, the fun will be in just getting out on the Network to find the mileposts and discs.

Astronomer and Millennium Commissioner Dr. Heather Couper will officially start the clock to begin the treasure hunt on the Prime Meridian in the courtyard of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Pupils from local schools will join invited guests to celebrate the launch that coincides with National Science Week.

Dr. Couper said, “As a really keen cyclist and an astronomer – my bike’s a Supernova by the way – and also a Millennium Commissioner, I’m delighted to be here supporting Sustrans on the launch of the Millennium Time Trail. It’s the first day of Spring, Summer is on the way, and I can’t think of a better incentive for all of us to get on our bikes.”

In addition to sponsoring the Millennium Mileposts The Royal Bank of Scotland has also funded the Time Trail and its launch.

Jim Bellany, Head of Sponsorship at The Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The Time Trail is a fascinating concept which will motivate all cyclists – from children to adults – to cover as many of their local cycle routes as possible. The Royal Bank of Scotland is pleased to have sponsored 1,000 mileposts all over the UK without which there would be no Time Trail!”

Charlie Harrow, the artist and teacher who dreamed up the Time Trail said, “The idea was to encourage more families and children to get on their bikes and enjoy the National Cycle Network. The Trail is a bit of fun which I hope will also educate and add to the experience.”

The National Cycle Network includes 5,000 miles of safe, attractive and high quality routes for cyclists and will provide a major new amenity for walkers and wheelchair users. The Network will be extended to 10,000 miles by 2005. The National Cycle Network is a partnership project involving over 400 local authorities as well as businesses, landowners, environmental bodies and others.

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