CYCLISTS now have a safe space to store their bikes while they explore the south Oxfordshire countryside thanks to a grant from the Gannett Foundation.

The Sylva Foundation, which manages the Sylva Wood Centre in Long Wittenham, was one of four local groups that received funding from the Oxford Mail's parent company in its latest round of charitable grants.

See which other Oxfordshire causes got a boost from the grant scheme

Offering training facilities for young crafters and the wider public from its Little Wittenham Road base, the charity has used its £4,255 funding boost to create a new bike shelter and path for visitors to encourage more visitors from Didcot and Wallingford.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, chief executive, said: "We were surprised but really pleased to find out we had received the Gannett funding.

"We wanted to put it along the Sustrans route five so it ties into the popular cycling path.

"It used to be that there was no access to the site at the weekend and that is something we have changed recently as well."

Oxford Mail:

He added: "This area has so much on the doorstep with the Earth Trust, Wittenham Clumps plus the young forest, community orchard and wildflower we have created.

"Grants are really important for us because we are a small charity."

The cycling route means families can ride from Didcot without facing a main road and Dr Hemery said the charity hoped the new shelter would encourage more people to come to their open days, exhibitions, and training courses by bike.

ALSO READ: Thousands set to line roads as major cycle tour comes to Oxfordshire

Some of the first to try out the new facility, which was installed earlier this month, were the O'Reilly family from Didcot.

Duncan O'Reilly, a keen cyclist who has encouraged a love for riding in his 10-year-old daughter Rosie, said: "I haven't visited the wood centre much but Rosie and her friend like to cycle and so this is perfect and it will give them a new place to go."

His wife Lucy added: "It's a great space and the shelter looks well made. It's just so nice to have something like this for the people of Didcot on their doorstep."

ALSO READ: Anglo-Saxon building to be recreated on South Oxfordshire site

The centre earlier this year also opened a new teaching room, which is opposite the bike shelter, and is preparing to start construction on a replica Anglo-Saxon building, the remains of which were found on the south Oxfordshire site in 2016.

The Gannett Foundation over the last ten years has given more than £3 million to help charitable community projects all over the country. Applications will reopen later this year.