The ever-popular Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath from Slaithwaite to Marsden is to have a hard surface this summer.

The 2.7-mile stretch between the two villages has long been blighted by mud and huge puddles but it’s to have an all-weather surface the same as the towpath from Milnsbridge to Slaithwaite which was upgraded in 2022.

The Canal & River Trust, which is doing the work, says: “The current Slaithwaite to Marsden section is muddy but passable. Proposed improvements include mud removal, sub-base enhancement and a 2m to 2.5m wide tarmac surface with stone chippings matching the Milnsbridge to Slaithwaite upgrade. This durable choice aids icy grip, controls cycle speed and warns of approaching cyclists.”

The same is happening on the towpath on Huddersfield Broad Canal on its three-mile stretch from Huddersfield town centre to the Calder & Hebble Navigation at Cooper Bridge. This will also have a tarmac surface and barriers which have restricted people from using the towpath will be removed.

The aim is to make the towpaths completely accessible for walkers, cyclists and people with disabilities. This means the towpaths will be widened as much as possible and old A frame barriers will be replaced by bollards which are 1.5 metres apart.

Work on Huddersfield Narrow Canal will also include reducing the steepness of slopes alongside locks, re-laying cobbled areas to make smoother surfaces where possible, repairing drystone walls, repointing stone setts near to some locks and installing new seats and information boards.

Work on Huddersfield Broad Canal includes replacing benches, repointing stone setts and cutting back overhanging vegetation.

People have chance to comment on the proposals until February 25 by going to

Mark Robinson, enterprise manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We aim to begin work on site in early summer but this will depend on how long it takes to amend designs following the consultation and then for West Yorkshire Combined Authority to approve them. 

“We will try to ensure closures are minimal and towpath users and adjacent businesses are kept informed. During the previous phase of towpath upgrade on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in 2022 we had very few closures and instead managed to keep the towpath open with people on site to lead towpath users past sections where work was taking place which we hope to do again this time. However, if we do need any closures, we will advertise them well in advance of the works.” 

Regarding the barriers that are being removed, Mark said: “Some years ago we installed barriers to prevent the towpath being used by motorcycles and cars.

“However, we are now removing them as we found they also prevent many legitimate users from using the towpaths, such as those with double buggies, some wheelchairs and larger mobility scooters.

“We propose to replace the barriers with bollards that provide at least a 1.5m gap between them. We will continue to work with the police to monitor the issue of motorcycles and will take additional steps should a problem arise.”

The new-look towpath will have what’s known as a tar, spray and chip surface. This involves improving the existing stone layer then applying a layer of bituminous material (like tarmac) on top of that. 

Then hot bitumen is sprayed on top and stone chippings are spread and rolled in. This surface has been chosen because it provides a durable surface, is visually complementary to the canal heritage, provides grip in icy conditions and gives an audible warning of approaching cycles.

The total scheme for the two canals will be £2.3m funded by the Department for Transport Active Travel Fund 2022-23 after a successful application by Kirklees Council in collaboration with the Canal and River Trust and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.