THE LEEDS and Liverpool Canal between Silsden and Riddlesden will benefit from a £2.9 million boost for the county’s towpaths.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority has announced plans to improve cycling and walking access to four canals.

Work was due to start this week (March 26) on upgrading canal towpaths as part of the authority’s award winning £60 million CityConnect programme aimed at making it easier for people to cycle and walk.

The authority says the schemes will provide missing links in local cycling and walking infrastructure while opening up access to some of the region’s best countryside, including the Yorkshire Dales.

Keighley MP John Grogan, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways, helped launch the scheme by officially breaking ground on the towpath near Silsden Road Bridge.

He was joined on the towpath, part of the Airedale Greenway, by Cllr Eric Firth, deputy chairman of the authority’s Transport Committee, and representatives from the Canal & River Trust.

On the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, 2.7km of the route between Lodge Hill Bridge at Riddlesden Golf Club and Silsden Road Bridge will be resurfaced, building on previous improvements from Kirkstall to Shipley.

Mr Grogan said: “In Parliament I am lucky enough to chair the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways.

“I hope improvements to the towpath will mean that residents of Silsden and Keighley and visitors alike will be encouraged to make even greater use of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which is one of the glories of the North of England.”

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “The council is committed to improving people’s ability to travel safely in the district, and in ways which suit their lifestyle, whether it’s by road, rail, bicycle or on foot.

“These towpath improvements on the Airedale Greenway support that commitment. They will help cyclists and walkers, on their way to work or school or in their leisure time, to enjoy even more of the Bradford district’s beautiful countryside in safety and comfort.”

The schemes are funded by the Department of Transport (DfT) and delivered by the Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme in partnership with the Canal & River Trust, which cares for 2,000 miles of canals, and local authority partners.

The projects will be completed in phases. Full details of timetables, divisions and closures are available from

Improvement work is also taking place also taking part on the towpath schemes on the Calder and Hebble Navigation, Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Rochdale Canal.

Cllr Eric Firth, Deputy Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “These towpath improvements will provide people travelling by bike or on foot - whether that be for work, school, to the shops or for leisure – with safe, scenic traffic-free routes all year round.

“Through our CityConnect programme, the combined authority is working in partnership to connect people to employment and opportunities, and encourage more of us to travel in a way which benefits our health, the environment and our economy.”

Lucy Rogers, Enterprise Manager with the Canal & River Trust, said: “Canal towpaths are ideal places to enjoy an energising walk or a cycle ride in the fresh air.

“We know people feel happier and healthier when they’re by water, so we are delighted to be working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and local authority partners on these four brilliant projects to create new all-weather surface towpaths which can be used all year round.”