LONDON 2012: Olympic torch to be carried by planes, trains and automobiles - plus horses, balloons and chair lifts
NINETY-five percent of the British population will be within ten miles of the London 2012 Olympic flame as it makes its 8,000 mile journey around the United Kingdom.
Organisers have confirmed more details of the route and revealed how the flame will travel by a large range of alternative modes of transport, including a sidecar on the Isle of Man, home of the famous TT Races, the Alum Bay chairlift on the Isle of Wight and a mountain railway to the summit of Snowdon.
In addition there are plans for the torch to fly across the Eden Project in a hot air balloon, travel across Loch Ness in a boat and fly down a zip wire off the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. It will also journey on horseback, bicycle, tram, rowing boat and steam train.
The flame, which will be lit in Olympia, Ancient Greece, will start its journey around the UK at Land's End on May 19th and after announcing 74 evening stops and island visits earlier this year, organisers Locog have now confirmed an additional 1,018 villages, towns and cities along the route.
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As expected some of Britain's postcard landmarks will feature heavily, with the flame visiting the summit of the 1085 metre Snowdon in north Wales, the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, the Needle's off the Isle of Wight, Stonehenge, Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast and St Andrew's, the home of golf, in Scotland.
"Im delighted that the Olympic torch relay will take the 2012 Games to almost every corner of the UK and that we have achieved our ambition to take the flame to within an hours journey of 95% of the population," said London 2012 chairman Seb Coe.
"Now everyone is invited to plan their welcome and find out where they can go to be part of this historic occasion. The Olympic Games are coming to you as the Olympic flame gives our people and places their moment to shine."
However, organisers have yet to confirm whether the Olympic torch will cross into the Republic of Ireland.
International stops for the torch were scrapped after protesters repeatedly hijacked the relay in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics - most notably in London and San Francisco.
It was subsequently ruled the flame must travel immediately to the host country after being kindled in Greece but the International Olympic Committee have been sympathetic to the Republic of Ireland's aspirations to host the flame when the torch visits Northern Ireland for four days next June.
Denis Oswald, who heads the IOC's London inspection team, last year acknowledged the 'special circumstances' of such a visit and the limited number of communities announced on June 6th next year appear to suggest a brief stop in Dublin has not been dismissed, if not yet confirmed.
Meanwhile, in a bid to ease congestion on London roads and take pressure off Police, the flame will also spend the final day of its journey towards the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium on Friday July 27th travelling from Hampton Court Palace up the River Thames.
Every county in England and every local authority area in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to welcome the flame, which will also spend seven days visiting every borough in the host city, arriving at the Tower of London on Friday July 20th.
"When the Olympic flame arrives here in the UK on 18 May next year it will mark the final countdown to the greatest sporting event the country will host in our lifetime," said Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
"The Olympic torch relay will be an amazing opportunity for people to see the Olympic flame in their own towns and communities.
"The flames journey is steeped in the rich history of the Olympic Games, travelling from Athens then right around the UK."