Helmshore Viaduct is due to be temporarily closed for major work to make the path across it better for walking and cycling all year round.
The improvements are being carried out as part of the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway, a project to create a network of good quality routes which people can use for everyday travel, as well as providing opportunities for tourism and recreation.
Helmshore Viaduct forms part of National Cycle Route 6 between Helmshore and Haslingden, however the path is in poor condition and often muddy with large pools of water making it difficult for people to use, particularly during the winter.
The viaduct is due to be closed from Monday 4 September until the end of October for work to surface the width of the path above the arches with asphalt, repair and repoint the parapets, and install new drainage pipes to protect the historic structure from water damage.
The viaduct near Helmshore Textile Museum was part of the East Lancashire Railway when it opened in 1848, and is formed of two separate sections linked by a retaining wall.
The work will complete one of a handful of ‘missing links’ remaining until the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway is finished around the end of 2024. The project began in 2015 and involves establishing 23km of new multi-user routes and improving 95km of existing paths to make them more attractive for walking and wheeling.
County Councillor Scott Smith, lead member for highways and active travel, said: “The aim of the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway is to create a network of well-signed and easily accessible cycling and walking routes linking towns and villages throughout East Lancashire, which people can use for daily travel such as commuting to work or education, as well as for leisure.
“Our environment team has been making good progress on this for a number of years and, with the network almost complete, these improvements to Helmshore Viaduct are part of the final phase of the scheme to fill a handful of remaining gaps.
“We improved a short section of the path to the south of the viaduct in 2017, and a section to the north in 2019, and this latest work will make the route between Helmshore and Haslingden more suitable all year round.
“More people are choosing to cycle and walk for their health and to support the environment, and improving our infrastructure in this way will encourage even more people to join them.”
There will be signs highlighting a short diversion via Holcombe Road while Helmshore Viaduct is closed.
The East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway is made up of four routes – the Weavers Wheel around Blackburn, the Valley of Stone connecting Rawtenstall to Whitworth, National Cycle Network Route 6 (NCN6) linking Accrington to Stubbins and the Huncoat Greenway near Accrington.
Lancashire County Council was awarded £5.5m in May 2023 by the government through Active Travel England for a number of improvements to cycling and walking routes, including the completion of a number of sections of the East Lancashire Cycle Network. These include the improvements to Helmshore Viaduct and other sections of National Cycle Route 6, the Valley of Stone routes at Britannia, Helmshore, Stacksteads and Whitworth, and improved road crossings at Baxenden, Rawtenstall and Rising Bridge.