The project will see the creation of four new cycle ways directly into the national park from the surrounding urban areas and is expected to benefit around 3.5 million people.
The project is being funded through the Government's National Park Cycle Fund, with the Peak District National Park receiving £5 million. An additional £2.5 million will be provided by local authorities and a range of other organisations.
One of the key routes will see the historic towpath of the Caldon Canal improved to provide a link connecting the Potteries through the Staffordshire Moorlands to the Peak District. The project will see £2m spent on improving the towpath for both walkers and cyclists. The project is the largest investment in Staffordshire's canal network in recent years and will provide visitors the opportunity to access this green, wildlife-rich gateway into both the Churnet Valley and Peak District National Park.
Contractors, working in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, will start at Stockton Brook in Stoke-on-Trent and work on sections of the towpath progressing towards Endon and on to Cheddleton and Leek. From there an on road signed route to the Roaches from Leek and to the Manifold Valley will be provided as part of the project.
A drop-in event giving local people the opportunity to view the plans and speak to some of the organisations behind the project will take place on Thursday 6 February from 4.30pm to 7.00pm at the Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club, off Post Lane in Endon, ST9 9DT.
Charlotte Atkins, chair of the Canal & River Trust's Central Shires Waterway Partnership, adds: "We're delighted to see works progressing to develop this important route with the County Council. Running through some of Staffordshire's most spectacular countryside and steeped in history, the Caldon Canal is a very special place for visitors to explore.
“We really hope that walkers and cyclists will take the time to stop off and appreciate what the canal, and the communities it runs through have to offer as they make their way into and out of the beautiful Peak District."
The work is expected to be completed in June 2015. Small sections of the towpath will be closed at a time to allow the work to be carried out safely and to minimise any inconvenience caused.
For further information on the scheme please feel free to drop into the event at the Stoke-on-Trent Boat or contact the project manager at Staffordshire County Council at [email protected]