Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals receive winter makeover

The Canal & River Trust is carrying out a major winter makeover of the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals.

Trust staff and 70 volunteers will work across 43 miles of waterways in East Cheshire and Derbyshire.

Both canals are being dredged, boundary fences mended, overhanging vegetation cut back or removed, and dry stone walls repaired. New smart signage is being installed at key locations and towpaths improved.

Grant Aston places in a final coping stone.

To accommodate the need for social distancing, staff and volunteers are divided up into dedicated work parties, so different tasks can be tackled simultaneously at locations across the two canals.

Maintenance work on the Marple lock flight is also currently underway but this will be finished by Christmas in time for the Peak Forest Canal to re-open to boaters for the festive holiday, says the trust.

“Although the canals were originally built to carry coal and other goods during the Industrial Revolution, they have now been reinvented as leisure destinations and havens for wildlife,” says Tracey Jackson, local operations manager. “Particularly during the coronavirus lockdowns, people have noticed how waterways offer an amazing, tranquil space, where everything slows down – a great place to escape the pressures of modern life. We know from research that people are happier and more relaxed when they’re by water, and activities such as walking, cycling, boating, fishing, canoeing and paddle boarding improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

“Our volunteers enjoy being in the outdoors and they do a fantastic job keeping the canals in good shape. We are very grateful for all their hard work and amazing contribution to maintaining the high standards needed to be worthy of our much-prized Green Flags.”

The 26-mile Macclesfield Canal and the 16-mile Peak Forest Canal form part of the 100-mile Cheshire canal cruising ring, which provides boaters with a chance to combine the rural Cheshire scenery with the urban waterways of Greater Manchester.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.