Towpath Improvements on the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard
Our towpath improvement project on the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard is now providing a better path for people to access the health and wellbeing benefits of being by water.
The project completed over Summer 2022 built on previous towpath improvements undertaken by us in Leighton Buzzard in 2015, between Leighton Road and Leighton Lock.
The project has been delivered in partnership with national walking and cycling charity Sustrans, who are custodians of the National Cycle Network. 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 towpath forms part of the National Cycle Network which aims to deliver a traffic-free, accessible network for everyone, including walkers, cyclists, families and people with mobility requirements.
Just over £500,000 of investment has been delivered, adding a further 2.9km of improved towpath, resulting in a 4.1km stretch of continuous high-quality towpath through Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas. This is part of helping the nation's waterways to provide high quality off-road routes for walking, cycling and wheeling, and an important 'natural health service' across the country.
The new towpath was officially opened by the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Lady Jane Clifford, and Rt. Hon. Andrew Selous MP in a celebration event with our partners, Sustrans, and Councillor Tony Morris from Leighton Linslade Town Council.
Southern section towpath works
The towpath south of Leighton Road previously had an uneven surface and was narrow in many places. This summer we resurfaced and widened a 780-metre section of towpath running south from the B4032 Leighton Road to Bridge 115A footbridge (old railway), widening the towpath to between 1.8 and 2 metres, and using an all-weather surface that can be used all year round. A 50-metre-long raised surface over a new towpath spill weir has been installed to ensure that people can still use the towpath in flood conditions.
Northern section towpath works
North of Lock 27 (Leighton Lock) a 2,100-metre section to Bridge 110 (Sandhole Bridge) in Old Linslade has been improved including surfacing improvements, vegetation trimming and biodiversity enhancements. Additional hedgerow improvements will be undertaken over the coming winter.
Our ecologists and heritage advisers have supported the design of the improvements to ensure they are sensitive to local wildlife and heritage structures, making enhancements where possible, including hedgerow improvements, vegetation and tree management.
Please let us know if you or your organisation would like to get involved in wildlife or heritage improvements with other volunteers, or even looking after them though a community adoption.