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Friday, 16 September 2011

Canal towpath improvements in Hebden Bridge

Calderdale Council have recently completed a scheme to improve the towpath on the heavily used Blackpit Aqueduct stretch of the Rochdale Canal in the centre of Hebden Bridge, to enable this stretch of the canal to be incorporated into the Pennine Cycleway, part of the Sustrans National Cycle Route 66.

The canal towpath was previously a compacted gravel construction, and in wet weather the surface puddled badly making the path difficult and unpleasant to use.

The towpath is now surfaced in a hard-wearing material comprising an asphalt base-course with a resin-bonded gravel surface dressing which will provide a long-term maintenance free solution which offers a good walking and cycling surface, combined with a natural gravel appearance to blend well with the canal surroundings.

The mown grass edge to the canal bank has been retained, with an edge detail of reclaimed stone setts laid between the grass and the new surface.

Original stone paving around the lock gates has been retained with additional reclaimed setts laid across the towpath at these locations. A section of reclaimed stone setts laid at the western end of the aqueduct links the new paving to the existing natural stone laid to the rear of Canal Works. Setted sections will provide a 'rumble strip' effect that will encourage cyclists to moderate their speed on this narrow section of towpath.

The paving has been carefully chosen to offer a hard-wearing surface that combines reclaimed local stone materials and high quality modern surface finishes, which complement the aqueduct structure and blend with the setting of the Conservation Area.

The work was funded through Calderdale Council's Local Transport Plan budget, and a contribution to the scheme from Hebden Royd Town Council allowed continuity of high quality materials to be used throughout.

Councillor Barry Collins, Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment said; "The Council proposes to continue the enhancements and re-surfacing works on selected sections of the upper Calder valley cycle route, including the Rochdale Canal corridor, as funds permit to provide an amenity which can be used all year-round.

"A good surface for the off road cycle route offers a real alternative to the road route, particularly for cyclists but also for walkers and those with pushchairs and wheelchairs. The total length of the proposed surfaced route will be approximately 10.6km and will link to the improved sections of the Calder and Hebble Navigation towpath between Sowerby Bridge and Brighouse, and along the Hebble Trail into Halifax".

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