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Canal improvements set to begin in Market Harborough

Works will give local people a clean, green route to feeling happier and healthier.

A muddy puddle on a path

A project is set to begin to revamp a section of canal towpath in Market Harborough, making it easier for local people to feel the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time on or by the water*.*

The project

We are working in partnership with Sustrans to improve a 2km length of the Grand Union Canal towpath in the town.

The project will transform the stretch of towpath and make it suitable for use all year round, including those with wheelchairs or buggies and those accessing the water for boating.

As part of the works the towpath will be widened and a new all-weather surface laid. This involves laying a bitumen surface and then a stone chip layer to give it a more natural feel sympathetic to the canal surroundings.

As well as improving the towpath surface the works will also see a busy mooring for visiting boats improved. Works are due to begin on 22 May and last until the end of August. Sections of the towpath will be closed for the duration of the works with temporary diversions in place.

a new resurfaced towpath with a person walking away from the camera

Funding for the £900,000 project has come from the Department for Transport through Sustrans' Paths For Everyone programme as well as a Section 106 contribution from the Wellington Place housing development through Harborough District Council.

Research shows that time spent by water can help people feel happier and healthier and that our waterways bring a £1.1 billion cost saving to the NHS as a result of people being active along our waterways and towpaths. With more people looking for a local escape on their doorstep, the works will make it easier and more appealing for people to explore and enjoy the Grand Union Canal.

Easier access

Linny Beaumont, our regional director, said: “Still used and navigated by boats as they have been for hundreds of years, research shows that spending time amongst nature alongside our historic canals is good for all our physical and mental health. These improvements are important because it will make it easier for us all to access the wonderful canal on our doorsteps and experience the benefits ourselves.

“The Canal & River Trust is a charity so support from local partners, like Sustrans and Harborough District Council, is crucial in helping us in our ongoing work to protect waterways and ensure that they can continue to be enjoyed both now and for future generations.”

Paths for Everyone

Clare Maltby, Sustrans' England Director Midlands and East, said: “It's great to see this scheme getting underway. Our Paths for Everyone programme is helping to improve the National Cycle Network right across the country and the scheme is helping to bring us all one step closer to a National Cycle Network that is safe and accessible for everyone.

“As custodians of the network, we own just a small portion of the land it sits on so, it's important to work in partnership with organisations like the Canal & River Trust which is delivering this scheme. Schemes like this demonstrate why it's so important that investment in active travel continues because there are so many benefits. In this case, many people in the local area will enjoy a wider, more accessible path."

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

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Last Edited: 23 May 2023

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