News article created on 29 March 2022

Towpath improvements planned for Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard

In partnership with national walking and cycling charity Sustrans, we're planning a £500,000 towpath improvement project on the Grand Union Canal in Leighton Buzzard, starting in May and completed by September 2022.

Picture of a towpath Towpath improvements on the canal

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.

About the project

The project builds on previous towpath improvements undertaken by us 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.

Enhancing our towpaths 

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.”

Where will these improvements take place?

The towpath south of Leighton Road currently has an unbound, uneven surface and is narrow in many places. The project will resurface and widen a 780-metre section of towpath running south from the B4032 Leighton Road Bridge 114 to Bridge 115A (Mentmore Gardens). This southern section of towpath improvements will require the towpath to be closed from the end of May for approximately 10 weeks.  A signed towpath diversion will be in place.

The project will also improve a 2,100-metre 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. Any closures will be kept to a minimum and will have signed diversion routes in place.

Ahead of the improvements, we're holding a community information event on Saturday 23 April, from 1.30pm to 6.30pm at Linslade Memorial Pavilion, Mentmore Road, Linslade LU7 2NZ. People are invited to come along to find out more about the project and we will have plans on display and representatives on hand to answer questions. People can also find out about how they can get involved in delivering some of the wildlife or heritage improvements with other volunteers, or to help look after the new towpath environment once it is complete.

Towpath Code

Our Towpath Code makes it clear that pedestrians and those accessing the water have priority and cyclists in particular should be considerate of others. Cyclists wanting to travel at speed should use alternative routes away from the canal.