A call has gone out for the canal towpath that runs from Allandale to The Falkirk Wheel to be upgraded so more people can make use of it.
The pathway along the Forth & Clyde Canal is used by hundreds of dog walkers, cyclists and joggers on a daily basis, but large stretches of it have been left almost inaccessible due to the recent spell of unusually wet weather.
One stretch – from Lock 17 at Underwood to Lock 18 – has recently been given a tarmac surface as part of a £160,000 improvement scheme.
Now councillors Billy Buchanan of Bonnybridge and Banknock’s Jim Blackwood are investigating other sources of funding which could see the remainder of the path given a similar makeover.
Scottish Canals, the body responsible for maintaining the waterway, estimates that upgrading the remainder of the three-mile stretch of towpath would cost £561,000.
A recently published strategy document published by Scottish Canals claims that the number of people using towpaths has increased 50 per cent in areas which have already been completed. A survey also revealed that towpath users are likely to spend around £25 per head in the local community.
Councillor Blackwood said: “A lot of fantastic work has been done to re-open the canal for use – upgrading the towpath to a decent standard would be the final piece of jigsaw. The number using it is increasing all the time.
“A number of constituents have been in touch to complain that the stretch at Underwood has been particularly bad due to the recent bad weather.
“There are a number of potholes in the path, and they seem impossible to eradicate with the current surface.”
The two councillors recently met with Richard Millar of Scottish Canals at Underwood to discuss taking the project forward.
Councillor Buchanan said: “This is an exciting project and one which would be of immense benefit to locals and tourists alike.
“We’re hoping that more funding can be secured soon and the upgrading work can begin.”