A 12-WEEK project to improve the canal towpath between Shipley and Saltaire will begin on Monday January 15.

The section of the historic Leeds & Liverpool Canal will be part of plans to upgrade accessibility and extend the National Cycle Network in West Yorkshire, and the work will also include a new mural.

Work on the two-mile stretch of towpath between Otley Road Bridge and Hirst Lock is expected to last 12 weeks.

It will see the towpath resurfaced. During this time, the section between Victoria Street Bridge near Shipley, and Hirst Lock will close.

The work is being funded by charity Sustrans, with the Government-funded Shipley Towns Fund paying £23,500 towards the project.

Sustrans says it is working with with the Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and Bradford Council on the project, that includes a new asphalt surface with natural stone gravel finish to fill in muddy potholes and create a smooth route.

Sustrans said: “This will help to improve the accessibility of the towpath for people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters and other mobility aids to access the path, as well as families with buggies, walkers and cyclists.”

Local students are also creating a mural on the wall of Otley Road Bridge, which is currently covered in graffiti. The theme is: ‘Where could the towpath take you?’ Josh Molyneux, Sustrans Network Development Manager for Yorkshire said: “This section of canal is extremely popular as a footpath and cycleway. The work will make it easier for many more people to use and enjoy the path.”

Sean McGinley, director Yorkshire & North East at Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s a timely moment for the towpath upgrade to take place, 250 years after this section of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was opened in 1774. As a charity it’s so important that we work with other organisations to keep our canals alive. Our historic waterways are living museums, where past and present meet.”

Chairman of Shipley Towns Fund Adam Clerkin said: “We are delighted to be able to contribute funding towards this important project to make this historic and well-used path more accessible for everyone. This supports our aim to enable more people to enjoy the area, as well as encouraging more active travel.”

Previous accessibility and surface upgrades were carried out on the route near Five Rise Locks in Bingley, and from the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds to Woodlesford. Ultimately Sustrans hopes to gain funding to improve and extend the Greenway up to Skipton.