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Funding announced for canal towpath upgrade

A £450,000 grant to upgrade the canal towpath near Skipton has been welcomed by Craven District Council, the Canal & River Trust, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The funding from the Department for Transport was announced last week by Chancellor George Osborne during a visit to Grassington.

Councillor Simon Myers, lead member for Enterprising Craven at Craven District Council said: "This is fantastic news for Craven and the Yorkshire Dales. The canal is a great asset for the district but the quality of the infrastructure makes it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy the canal. This first phase of works will deliver much needed improvements and builds on the legacy of the Tour de France in Craven.  I look forward to seeing the work complete."

The scheme was based on the Sustrans Access Development Plan commissioned by Craven District Council. The purpose of the Plan is to provide a traffic free walking and cycle route along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in the Craven District.

The Canal & River Trust charity, which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways, will lead on the project to create a new, all-weather hard surface along a popular 4km (2.5 mile) stretch of the towpath, running alongside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal from Skipton to Bradley. The upgrade work is due to start in April and will last for about three months.

Chantelle Seaborn, Waterways Manager for the Canal & River Trust in the North West, said: "We are delighted to have secured funding to transform the towpath into an all-weather surface which will make such a difference for cyclists, walkers, boaters and anglers using this popular route.
The Leeds & Liverpool Canal is one of the key 'Gateways to the Dales' and support from our partners Craven District Council and the National Park Authority has been vital in making this project a reality. Ultimately our ambition is to upgrade the entire Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath in Yorkshire, improving links for the Leeds city region through to the Yorkshire Dales National Park."

The grant was secured from the Department for Transport's Cycle Ambition Grant to increase cycling in National Parks.

Nick Cotton, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority's Member Champion for Recreation Management, said: "This funding is very welcome indeed. Development of the towpath route will be a major benefit to the National Park because it will increase the opportunities for easy, safe cycling for those with less experience and it will be particularly beneficial for families. It's also a great way to promote wider cycling options throughout the area."