The towpath on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Bradley and Kildwick has been temporarily closed as work has restarted on the £2 million Craven towpath improvement project.
The work had been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, but contractors are now back on site. However, their progress is being hampered by members of the public ignoring the closure signs and fencing.
Canal & River Trust, the waterways and wellbeing charity that cares for the canal, secured funding for the project from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development with further support from Craven District Council and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.
Luke Edwards, project manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “It is really important that people take notice of the signage and fencing. The safety of members of the public, staff and contractors is our primary concern, and it will be difficult to maintain the correct social distancing measures if people ignore the temporary closure.
“We would ask for the public’s patience and cooperation while the work is carried out, with closures in place for at least five weeks. Please bear with us and respect the signs and help keep everyone safe. Once complete, the towpath will be back open with a vastly improved surface making it easier for local people to visit the canal and get closer to nature.
“We know that spending time on the canal is good for people’s health and wellbeing. Please just remember to observe social distancing at all times – keeping away from other people and moored boats. Cyclists should remember that pedestrians have priority so they should be ready to go slow and give way.”
In total, the project will see more than 11km of the towpath in Craven improved, as identified in the Access Development Plan commissioned by Craven District Council and written by Sustrans, to improve accessibility along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in the District.
The towpath is being resurfaced with a natural limestone material which creates a durable and compact surface. It will be widened at key hotspots, including Gargrave and Broughton Road, to provide better access to and from Skipton railway station and employment sites in the town.
There will also be new ‘welcome’ and information boards about key points of interest and visitor facilities in and around the canal, and additional waymarking signage to help people find their way onto the waterway. A new canoe portage point in Gargrave will help paddlers get onto the water and enjoy England’s first Coast-to-Coast Canoe Trail.
For the latest news and advice about the canal network and social distancing, please visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
For the latest information on closures, please visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices and search “Leeds and Liverpool Canal”.