The works, which will be undertaken by the Canal & River Trust's engineering contractor Kier and are due to be completed by 23 August, will improve, resurface and widen a 780-metre section of towpath running south from the B4032 Leighton Road Bridge 114 to Bridge 115A (Mentmore Gardens). The towpath will be closed, and towpath notices will display a diversion route via Mentmore Gardens, Mentmore Road and Wing Road.
The towpath will temporarily reopen on Saturday 30 July, to allow access to the Linslade Canal Festival at Tiddenfoot Waterside Park.
The project will also improve a 2.1km section running north from Lock 27 (Leighton Lock) to Bridge 110 (Sandhole Bridge) in Old Linslade. Here there will be surfacing improvements, vegetation trimming and biodiversity enhancements. The works in this section do not require the towpath to be closed.
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 builds on previous towpath improvements undertaken by the Trust in Leighton Buzzard in 2015, between Leighton Road and Leighton Lock. It will add 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 planned for Leighton Buzzard is one of a series of Department for Transport (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.
Welcoming the support of local people
Ros Daniels, our 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 are involved in the design of the works to ensure the works are sensitive to local wildlife and heritage structures, making enhancements where possible, including hedge laying, vegetation and tree management.
“We welcome the support of local people to help deliver some of the wildlife or heritage improvements with other volunteers, or to help look after the new towpath environment once it is complete.”