A stretch of canal towpath known as the “muddy mile” will soon be no more thanks to a £212,000 improvement project.
Work has started to resurface the section of the Bridgewater Canal in Astley which was almost impassable at times due to the large amount of mud.
It is the first scheme in Greater Manchester’s Bee Network, a plan for the UK’s largest cycling and walking network launched last year by cycling and walking commissioner and former Olympic champion Chris Boardman.
The work has been funded jointly by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s cycling and walking challenge fund, the Bridgewater Canal Company and Wigan Council.
As well as surface improvements, there will be better access and signage, plugging a vital gap in the Bridgewater Way.
It will allow people to walk, run or cycle on the canal path all the way from Wigan Pier, through Leigh and across the Salford boundary to Monton and Patricroft.
A further project to reinstate the elevated towpath over the Barton Aqueduct is proposed, which would see the Bridgewater Way connect to the Trafford Centre, Salford Quays, Manchester city centre and back out to Stretford, Sale and Altrincham, creating a 20-mile continuous route.
Work on the towpath in Astley is under way and notices have been posted to advise people about footpath closures, which are expected to be in place until June.
Mr Boardman (right) said: “It’s very exciting to see spades going into the ground on our first Bee Network scheme. We know that this vital missing link has been on residents’ wish lists for a long time and we’re thrilled to be able to help deliver a route that we know will be well used by thousands of people every year.”
Becca Heron, director of economy and skills at Wigan Council said: “We would like to thank local people for their co-operation throughout the duration of these works.
“I am sure everyone who uses this part of the towpath will be happy to see this upgrade take place. We will keep local people informed of any updates as the weeks progress.”
Louise Morrissey, director of land and planning at Peel L&P, which owns the canal, said: “The works in Astley are set to make a difference to those who use the canal on a regular basis for pleasure and commuting to their place of work. We look forward to hosting an event to celebrate the official opening of the upgraded section in a few months.”