A stretch of towpath along the Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge was officially re-opened on Saturday, following improvement works as part of a £2.9m package to boost cycling and walking access on four West Yorkshire canals.
The Rochdale Canal has benefitted from improvements to create a high quality 10km route linking Sowerby Bridge to Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge.
Cycling has been a bit of a saviour - it’s helped me reconnect with the rest of the worldRob Glover
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, Cllr Scott Patient, was delighted the new towpath route is now open.
“I use the towpath daily, for cycling and walking my dog, and I’ve already seen an increase in people using this much improved facility between Sowerby Bridge and Hebden Bridge,” he said.
“People are really benefitting from this investment and I’m sure it will encourage further use of active travel methods as an attractive alternative to driving along the busy A646 road.
“With more people using this safer, traffic-free option it will also help us achieve better outcomes for air quality, complementing the council’s ongoing work to tackle air pollution and supporting the continued fight against climate change.”
Luddendenfoot resident Rob Glover who, six years ago, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia, said: “The canal is right on my doorstep and this means I can get up and down the valley to where I need to be more quickly and safely.
“Now the surface has been upgraded I arrive cleaner and drier whatever the weather.
“Cycling has been a bit of a saviour really. It’s allowed me to take up physical exercise again which has helped me reconnect with the rest of the world rather than staying at home.
“You can tend to feel a bit sorry for yourself but actually being able to get out on your bike and feel the wind on your face makes a lot of difference, and the more you do the more you feel able to do. Cycling has rebuilt my confidence from what was obviously a big surprise and a big knock-back.”
The towpath scheme is part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot, in partnership with Calderdale Council and the Canal & River Trust, the national waterway and wellbeing charity that look after Rochdale Canal.
Work is currently under way on a £2.1m scheme to improve cycling and walking access on a 6km section of the Rochdale Canal towpath between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, which is due to be completed this winter.
The upgraded towpath, which is to form part of the Calder Valley cycle route, will add to those already constructed and under construction in the area.