Work to improve the canal towpath in Skipton from Gawflat Swing Bridge, near Aireville Park, to Niffany Swing Bridge, has been completed.
This stretch, which runs parallel to Broughton Road, has now reopened to the public, providing a wider, traffic-free route to local schools, the railway station and the town centre through the Skipton Canal Waterfront scheme recently delivered by Craven District Council.
The funding to enable improvement of the Broughton Road stretch of towpath was secured by Craven District Council from the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Additional funding was secured by us, the waterways and wellbeing charity that cares for the canal, from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development along with further support from Craven District Council.
The £2 million project to improve the canal towpath surface from Gargrave to Kildwick is still underway, with closures currently in place from Holme Bridge, just outside Gargrave, to Thorlby Swing Bridge, and from Bradley Swing Bridge to Kildwick.
Councillor Simon Myers, Craven District Council’s lead member for Enterprising Craven, said: “I’m delighted that the work has been completed on this stretch of the canal towpath along Broughton Road.
“I know residents have been very keen to see these improvements and I’m sure it will make a big difference to people who live in this area, as well as to other local residents and visitors.
“This upgraded canal towpath makes the water and the countryside more accessible to everybody; improving mental and physical health as well as providing a traffic-free route to schools, shops and workplaces.”
Luke Edwards, our project managert, said: “We know a lot of residents and walkers use this stretch of towpath, and the work we’ve carried out has vastly improved the surface and access to the canal for all users.
“We continue to work on other stretches of the towpath so please be aware there may still be other closures in place, and please stay away from areas where contractors are working. People can check our website for up-to-date details on the sections currently being improved.
“One of our key goals as a charity is to encourage more people to enjoy our towpaths – they are great places to relax and take time out – so it’s a project that will be of huge benefit to the community. During the coronavirus pandemic, I would just remind people to respect social distancing rules keeping away from other people and moored boats. Cyclists, be prepared to slow down and remember that pedestrians have priority.”
The scheme received £140,000 secured by the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
David Dickson, Chair of the Infrastructure Board at York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This scheme is a real example of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s commitment to our ‘places’. Improving our towns and developing their infrastructure provides tangible benefits for residents, communities, visitors and businesses as in this case, which improves connectivity between the station and business sites across the town.”
In total, the project will see more than 11km of the towpath in Craven improved, as identified in the Access Development Plan commissioned by Craven District Council and written by Sustrans, to improve accessibility along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in the District.
The towpath is being resurfaced with a natural limestone material which creates a durable and compact surface. It will be widened at key hotspots, including Gargrave and Broughton Road, to provide better access to and from Skipton railway station and employment sites in the town.
There will also be new ‘welcome’ and information boards about key points of interest and visitor facilities in and around the canal, and additional waymarking signage to help people find their way onto the waterway. A new canoe portage point in Gargrave will help paddlers get onto the water and enjoy England’s first coast-to-coast canoe trail.