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Work is now underway on a £125,000 project to upgrade a one kilometre section of towpath along the River Weaver into an all-weather hard surface.

The scheme, which is due to be completed by the end of May, will see the installation of a two-metre wide path between Vale Royal Locks and the Blue Bridge (A556).

Work on this section represents the final link in a project to connect Northwich and Winsford along a nine kilometre route, following the traditional River Weaver towpath.

The project is funded by a £60,000 grant from WREN, secured through the Canal & River Trust; £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), allocated through the Saltscape project; and a £15,000 contribution from Conservative run Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Conservative Councillor Stuart Parker, Executive Member for Culture and Economy, said: “I am delighted this scheme will be among the first to benefit from the Saltscape project, which aims to re-connect communities in the Weaver Valley with the remarkable environment on their doorstep.

“The upgraded path will provide a wonderful leisure resource for walkers and cyclists alike, opening up more of our natural heritage for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Local Conservative Councillor Helen Weltman said: “The river path is a key off-road link but its condition on this stretch makes it tricky to negotiate, particularly for people with mobility difficulties.

“This investment will transform what is essentially a muddy track into a multi-user path and cycleway and will make even more of this picturesque riverside route accessible to all.”

Due to the remote location of the riverside site, all materials will be transported by barge along the canal from the Canal & River Trust yard in Northwich.

Brian Harvey, North Wales and Borders Partnership Chairman with the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Trust is responsible for caring for the River Weaver Navigation, and we are delighted this partnership project will make it easier for everyone to enjoy this beautiful riverside landscape.

“The new hard surface towpath will open up this popular route to all users, whatever the weather.

“Transporting the materials required for the construction project by boat makes perfect sense and it an excellent, sustainable solution to the logistical challenge of working in this remote location.”

WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK from funds donated by FCC Environment to the Landfill Communities Fund.

Richard Smith, Grant Manager for WREN, said: “WREN aims to fund projects that make a positive difference in the lives or local people. The completion of the final link of the pathway improvement works along the Weaver will really open up this fantastic spot for all to enjoy.”

The Saltscape project, which aims to conserve, restore and celebrate important landscape features of the Weaver Valley, has been made possible by funding from the HLF.

The project is expected to generate £1.4m of investment in the Weaver Valley during its lifetime.

Alison Lomax, Manager of the Saltscape Landscape Partnership, said: “Saltscape aims to protect and celebrate the unique environment of the Weaver Valley.

“Through projects such as the River Weaver towpath improvement we aim to open up the historic salt landscape for more people locally to enjoy.”

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