Part of a cycle route in East Lancashire is to be closed for almost two months to allow for major work to improve its accessibility year round.

Helmshore Viaduct, part of National Cycle Route 6 between Helmshore and Haslingden, will be closed from Monday, September 4 until the end of October.

Work carried out will include resurfacing the width of the path above the arches with asphalt, repairing and repointing the parapets, and installing new drainage pipes to protect the historic structure from water damage.

The path is in poor condition and is often muddy with large pools of water making it difficult for people to use, particularly in winter.

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.

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 routes and improving 95km of existing paths to make them more attractive for walking and cycling.

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 the 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.