A STRETCH of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal has re-opened to boaters after repairs to a collapsed section of 200-year-old canal bed.

The canal was closed after four large sink holes were found in the base of the waterway in Rishton in September.

Since then, workers from the Canal and Rivers Trust have been repairing the 18th Century canal at a cost of £500,000.

The canal itself has now re-opened, but it was estimated to be another week before the tow path can be used, a spokeswoman for CART said.

Waterway manager Chantelle Seaborn said: “We’re delighted to be re-opening this section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

“Fortunately, this kind of incident is rare and we’ve gone to great lengths to restore the canal and protect it from this sort of failure in the future.

“The 127-mile long canal is an extremely popular canal for hundreds of boaters, walkers and cyclists that use it every day.

“We appreciate that this has been a major disruption for people who enjoy the towpath but most especially for any boaters that have been stuck and unable to get back to their home moorings so we would like to thank them for their patience during this time.”

More than 1,400 tonnes of material has been used and 600m2 of waterproof liner installed to rebuild the canal bed.

The culvert, which takes water from a stream under the canal, has also been re-lined.

Works to rebuild and resurface the towpath are ongoing and the Trust hopes to re-open the path early next week.

Rishton councillor Ken Moss said: “I’m glad it has been sorted out and it’s great the Canal and Rivers Trust have seen to it quite thoroughly because they have not just given it a quick-fix.

“They have done a great job of fixing that part of the canal and there will be a lot of happy people when the tow path re-opens.”