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Towpath improvments set to begin in Market Harborough

We have announced a project to revamp a section of canal towpath in Market Harborough making it easier for local people to feel the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time by the water.

Group of people standing next to each other on a towpath

Working in partnership with Sustrans, we have secured funds that will improve a stretch of the Grand Union Canal towpath running for 2km from the town's canal basin. The section forms part of Route 6 of the National Cycle Network which connects London to the Peak District as well as being a popular path with locals looking for a green, traffic-free route into town.

The project

The project will see around £900,000 invested in transforming what can be a muddy stretch of towpath, making it suitable for use all year round by people on foot or bike as well as those with wheelchairs or buggies. As part of the works the path will be widened with a new all-weather surface laid and a busy mooring for visiting boats will be improved.

The works are due to begin in May and are anticipated to last for 15 weeks. Sections of the towpath will be closed for the duration of the works with temporary diversions in place.

Funding for the project has come from the Department for Transport through Sustrans' Paths For Everyone programme as well as a Section 106 contribution from the Wellington Place housing development, which will help to improve the towpath and linkages to the town centre for local residents.

A muddy puddle on a path

Ahead of the works starting Neil O'Brien, MP for Harborough, visited the site and met with our representatives, Sustrans and Harborough District Council.

Research shows that time spent by water can help people feel happier and healthier and that the Trust's waterways bring a £1.1 billion cost saving to the NHS as a result of people being active along its waterways and towpaths. With more people looking for a local escape on their doorstep, the works will make it easier and more appealing for people to explore and enjoy the Grand Union Canal.

Significant improvements

Welcoming the works Neil O'Brien MP said: “I am delighted that the towpath will be significantly improved, meaning it will be possible to walk or cycle alongside the canal at all times of the year. The works will allow more people to enjoy this pleasant stretch of the Grand Union Canal, and I would like to thank everyone who has made this project possible. I am looking forward to being able to walk along the towpath once it's completed.”

Alan Leather, our partnerships manager, said: “It is a beautiful stretch of canal, and we are pleased to be able to respond to the local demand for these improvements which will make it easier for people visiting, living and working in Market Harborough to enjoy the canal.

“As a charity we're incredibly grateful for the funding to make these improvements possible. It's great to see how much local people value the canal, and their continued support is vital so that we can continue to protect and preserve our historic waterways and avert the decline we saw last century.”

Paths for everyone

Clare Maltby, Sustrans' England Director Midlands and East, said: “Our Paths for Everyone programme is helping to improve the National Cycle Network right across the country, making it easier for everyone to walk and cycle. As custodians of the network, we own just a small portion of the land it sits on. So, it's important to work in partnership with organisations like the Canal & River Trust who are delivering this scheme. As a result of these improvements, many people will benefit from a wider, smoother, more accessible path. The scheme is helping to bring us all one step closer to a National Cycle Network that is safe and accessible for everyone.”

Cllr Simon Whelband, Harborough District Council's portfolio holder for wellbeing, communities and housing, said: “We are delighted that we have been able support these important works to this section of the Grand Union Canal towpath in Market Harborough using Section 106 contributions from the Wellington Place housing development. The improvements to the towpath will enable more people to access and enjoy this stretch along the canal, and will bring many benefits to the health and wellbeing of Harborough district residents and visitors.”

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

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Last Edited: 21 March 2023

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