Plans to re-open the towpath alongside the Shropshire Union Canal in Chester City Centre before Easter have been delayed due to nesting ducks. The towpath had been closed while remedial work to the rock face above the towpath was carried out.
The towpath was due to be reopened by Easter, but together with Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) we're looking at alternative ways to carry out the work without disturbing the nesting ducks, which is illegal.
The towpath was closed by CWAC in September after a routine inspection of the Roman walls found fractured and loose rock on the steep cliff face which could fall and possibly injure anyone using the towpath below.
Together with the Council we agreed a plan to undertake the remedial safety work, shoring a section of potentially unstable rock face and removing loose rock overhangs. Taking advantage of the towpath closure, the Council also planned to carry out routine maintenance of the almost 2,000-year old Roman wall.
Part of the work was to have been carried out by abseilers on the rock face and it was while advance work was being carried out that the nesting ducks were discovered.
Sally Boddy, regional engineer with the Canal & River Trust, said: “Nesting birds are legally protected, so it’s important that we don’t disturb the ducks until they’ve hatched and raised their ducklings. We’re looking at alternative ways to carry out the repairs, and aim to reopen the towpath as soon as we can, but it will inevitably take a little longer than we’d planned. Everyone looks forward to eggs at Easter, but this isn’t quite what we had in mind!”