Walkers and cyclists will now be able to travel between Northwich and Winsford entirely off road along the River Weaver towpath, thanks to a new, all-weather surface.
Work to upgrade the 9km path has been carried out in stages over several years and now the final link, between Vale Royal Locks and the Blue Bridge (over the A556), has been completed.
This final 1km project has been delivered by the Saltscape Landscape Partnership and cost £125,000, funded by £60,000 grant from WREN, secured through the Canal & River Trust; £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £15,000 from Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Alison Lomax, Manager of the Saltscape Landscape Partnership commented: “As a Northwich resident and as part of the Saltscape team it is great to see the upgraded towpath open. This is especially exciting as it is the first project to be completed by the new Saltscape partnership.
By delivering improvement projects such as this we aim to open up the historic salt landscape for more people locally to enjoy. And it looks great, I won’t get muddy boots on this riverside walk anymore!”
CWAC Local Councillor Gaynor Sinar said: “I am delighted that the ‘final link’ in this scheme to upgrade nine kilometres of towpath is now complete.
“What was previously a muddy track has been transformed into an all-weather path and cycleway, making this picturesque route accessible to all.”
Due to the remote location of the riverside site, most construction materials were transported along the River Weaver by boat from the Canal & River Trust yard in Northwich.
Wendy Capelle, local waterway manager with the Canal & River Trust, added: “The Trust is responsible for caring for the River Weaver Navigation and we are delighted this partnership project will make it easier for everyone to enjoy the beautiful, riverside landscape. The new hard surface towpath will now open up this popular route to more people, whatever the weather. We would just appeal to cyclists in particular to go at a leisurely pace when they pass other users.
“Transporting the materials required for the construction project by boat made perfect sense and was an excellent, sustainable solution to the logistical challenge of working in this remote location.”
The Saltscape partnership, launched earlier this year, will run a programme of developments designed to protect, restore and celebrate mid-Cheshire’s salt heritage and unique salt landscape. The partnership is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and is expected to generate £1.4million of investment in the Weaver Valley during its lifetime
WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund.
Richard Smith, Grant Manager for WREN said: “WREN aims to fund projects that make a positive difference to the lives of local people. The completion of the final link of the pathway improvement works along the Weaver will really open up this fantastic spot for all to enjoy.”