Towpath open again to the north

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Work on the towpath near Bridge 80 to the north of Audlem has now been completed. A short section near to Lock 15 has also been resurfaced.

The towpath is now open again and Overwater Marina and footpaths down to Hankelow Mill should be accessible in all weathers throughout the year.

Eddie Boyle, contractor for British Waterways, and the team from Blue Boar, have completed 720m of path improvement, over 100m longer than was scheduled. The only part now with a grass surface is over the Weaver Aqueduct which is normally free draining.

On completion, Eddie said: "I hope all at the Marina, in Audlem and your many visitors enjoy the Canal."

Yesterday, the contractors were taking their diggers back to base by barge. The Mouse, or rather the 'Mighty Mouse' was a favourite amongst all that saw it at work. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them, particularly necessary with the Mouse!

The Audlem Parish Plan team raised the funding and worked with British Waterways who supervised the project. The argument for funding was partly economic — to enable the hundreds of moorers at the Overwater Marina to be able to walk to Audlem to use the village's shops, pubs, cafes and other facilities.

A study by the British Marine Federation at sixteen new inland marinas suggest that a marina the size of Overwater should bring around £500,000 a year into the local economy. This, however, would only happen if there was reasonably easy access. Deep mud on the towpath south of Bridge 80 after heavy rain was a serious barrier that prevented anyone walking to or from the marina.

The second argument for the improvement was that the towpath was an important local amenity used for leisure and exercise by local residents as well as visitors.

The broad path along the western side of the marina has also been improved over the past ten days. This means it's now a pleasant walk, with a decent surface, of one and half miles each way to the Marina where the Coffee Lounge has a branch serving teas, coffees, ice creams and light meals. It's open from Thursdays to Sundays at present but will move shortly to its summer opening schedule.

Funding for the towpath improvements has been provided by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Defra through the Northern Marches Leader scheme with matched funding from Cheshire East, Audlem Parish Council, British Waterways and Overwater Marina.


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