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Leeds & Liverpool Canal Skipton to Bradley towpath upgrade

25th June 2015

Leeds & Liverpool canal towpath near Bradley

Hedgehog Cycling reported earlier this year on an announcement by the government and the Canal & River Trust of a £450,000 government grant to resurface the Leeds & Liverpool canal towpath between Skipton and Bradley. 

The work was due to start in April 2015, and take about 3 months. I cycled the towpath from Skipton to Bradley yesterday, to see what has been done, and whether the work is complete. In fact, no work has so far been undertaken. I contacted the Canal & River Trust to find out whether the upgrade is still due to happen, and it is, but work is now likely to begin in 'early autumn' 2015. The reason for the delay is that other engineering works, besides the towpath itself, have to be considered and are currently being investigated. These other works involve embankments and bank edges.

The path is currently earth, stones, and gravel. It's fine to cycle on a mountain or hybrid bike, but wouldn't suit a pure road bike. It was dry yesterday, but I imagine after rainfall, the path would become muddy. The proposed new surface is a self-bind material, which is not a smooth as tarmac, but ought to be suitable for most bikes, provided it is regularly maintained.

The canal runs alongside the A6131 and A629, and it is easy to see why the towpath is a more pleasant option for people cycling between Bradley and Skipton for work, shopping, or a leisure ride, rather than mixing with motorised traffic on the main roads. As well as connecting Bradley and Skipton, the resurfaced path will link both to Snaygill Industrial Estate, which is part way between, and the largest employment site in the Craven District. 

In the longer term, if the whole towpath is improved, it could provide access to the Yorkshire Dales from Silsden, Keighley, and Bradford and Leeds. The Canal & River Trust regard the Bradley-Skipton upgrade as Phase 1 of a plan to link the Leeds City Region to the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The motivations for the upgrade, and the reasons for the delay, are explained on this Canal & River Trust current consultation page, which also gives an email address for comments (to be received by 24th July 2015).

Barge at Bradley

Different takes on the same view:

Barge at Bradley  Barge at Bradley, Leeds & Liverpool canal  Barge near Low Bradley