Major towpath works under way

MB&B towpath

THE Canal & River Trust, the waterways and wellbeing charity, is starting the last phase of major improvements to almost fivemiles of the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal towpath in Greater Manchester.  The work will encourage greater use of the towpath with local communities able to use it year-round.

The work is going ahead thanks to £800,000 funding secured by the Canal & River Trust from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) through the Department for Transport Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG).

It will see further improvements along the Bolton arm of the canal towpath between Meccano Bridge to Hall Lane in Little Lever. This latest phase of works follows on from upgrades to the towpath from Meccano Bridge to School Lane in Radcliffe, Prestolee Locks to Ringley Road in Salford and Benny’s Bridge area close to Elton Reservoir in Bury.

The new towpaths will ensure that the local community will be able to use this beautiful stretch of waterway for walking and cycling all year round. The work is scheduled to last until early summer with some towpath restrictions in place whilst the new improved surface is installed.

Lucy Rogers, enterprise manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Canal & River Trust is delighted to be working with Transport for Greater Manchester on this great project to improve a much-used community resource.

“Not only will the new towpath surface benefit cyclists and joggers but also the everyday user of the towpath including walkers, fishermen and families on a day out. We know from research that people are happier and more relaxed when they are by water, and the improvements to the towpath condition will help contribute to improving people’s mental and physical well-being. “

Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “This scheme connects up the communities of Farnworth, Little Lever, Prestolee, Radcliffe and Bury through the green spaces that surround them. The improvements will enable more people to travel locally on foot or by bike to the shops, to school, the railway station and the tram stop.

“By making use of the canal space, we are transforming a 3 ½ mile car trip into a 1 ½ mile walk or cycle.”

The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal is 15 miles long and is a green pathway winding through the urban landscape of north Manchester. It originally ran north from Salford, on the River Irwell near Manchester, to Nob End within the village of Little Lever. Here it split into two: the main line continued to Bury, while a branch headed north-west to Canal Wharf in Bolton. The canal fell out of industrial use in the 1940’s after a major breach in 1936 just to the east of Prestolee Locks. Whilst the towpath remains a popular local resource, plans are underway to restore the canal with boats returning to the waterway.

To find out about the work of the Canal & River Trust or to donate or volunteer visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.

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