A PROJECT to improve access to a country greenway and disused rail viaduct has received a ‘significant’ cash boost.

The Martholme Greenway group, which looks after the area close to the viaduct in Great Harwood have received funding from the Lancashire Environmental Fund to improve the footpaths around the Martholme sidings and pit area between Mill Lane and Martholme Lane.

John Barker, 54, has been chairman of the Martholme Greenway for around three years.

He said: “The LEF have earmarked the full amount requested of £26,500 towards this.

“This along with the £1,000 from the Tesco bags fund and £6,400 from the Windfall Fund gives a grand total of £33,900 for this project.

“Work will commence on this once the full environmental and bat surveys have been done.

“I would like to thank all those who have written letters of support for this and the wider project.

“The paths have become unfit for purpose, particularly in wet weather and we’ll be able to scrape the current surfaces away and relay them.

“We will also be able to replace some steps near the ‘pit’ area with a ramp to improve access.”

The group’s ultimate aim is to link the Martholme project with the Padiham Greenway via Simonstone which will then provide an four-mile long nature corridor.

The viaduct was part of the Great Harwood railway loop to Read, Simonstone and Padiham but the line was closed more than 50 years ago.

This viaduct structure was completed in 1877 to take the North East Lancashire loop line over the river Calder.

The structure is built of sandstone and consists of 10 rounded arches, each of which is 40 feet wide. Built on a slight curve as the track bed turned between Great Harwood and Read it reaches a height of 65 feet above the river.