A £500,000 towpath improvement project on the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard, undertaken by national waterways and wellbeing charity the Canal & River Trust, in partnership with national walking and cycling charity Sustrans, will be completed and the towpath reopened yesterday, Friday 26 August. Sustrans received funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) in response to the ‘Paths for Everyone’ review of the National Cycle Network in 2019.
The works, which have been carried out by the Canal & River Trust’s engineering contractor Kier, resurfaced and widened a 780-metre section of towpath running south from the B4032 Leighton Road Bridge 114 to Bridge 115A (Mentmore Gardens). The project also improved a 2.1km section running north from Lock 27 (Leighton Lock) to Bridge 110 (Sandhole Bridge) in Old Linslade. Here there were some surfacing improvements and vegetation management.
The towpath in Leighton Buzzard forms part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network ‘Paths for Everyone’, which aims to deliver a traffic-free, more consistent and accessible network for everyone, including walkers, cyclists, families and people with mobility requirements.
The project built on previous towpath improvements undertaken by the Trust in Leighton Buzzard in 2015, between Leighton Road and Leighton Lock. It has added a further 2.9km of improved towpath, resulting in a 4.1km stretch of continuous high quality towpath through Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas.
The towpath improvement project in Leighton Buzzard is one of a series of DfT Active Travel funded towpath improvement projects being delivered by the Canal & River Trust across England and Wales, helping the nation’s waterways to provide high quality off-road routes for walking and cycling, and an important ‘natural health service’ across the country.
Ros Daniels, the Canal & River Trust’s director for London & South East, explains:
“Research shows that being next to water improves your mental and physical health. The Canal & River Trust wants to make its canals more welcoming, safe and clean, to encourage more people to use them, and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of walking and cycling, and being by the water.
“Canal & River Trust ecologists and heritage advisers have been involved in the design of the works to ensure the works are sensitive to local wildlife and heritage structures, making enhancements where possible, includinghedge laying, vegetation and tree management. The towpath engineering works are now complete, and with the help of volunteers, we have removed invasive Himalayan Balsam from the side ponds at Leighton Lock.
“We’d like to remind people to be considerate when they visit the towpaths, in particular to take it really steady when on a bike. Our ‘Stay Kind Slow Down’ campaign encourages people to give others space and time to enjoy the canal in a relaxed environment. It’s also really important that people take their litter home with them, so other people and wildlife can enjoy the canal too. Our Plastics Challenge is helping people get involved in towpath clean-ups, to prevent plastics from polluting our canals and rivers, and ending up in the oceans.”
To find out more about the improvements and canal care volunteering opportunities, go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/leighton-buzzard, call the Canal & River Trust on 03030 404040 or email[email protected]
For more information on Canal & River Trust including how you can donate money or volunteer to support their work visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
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