BOATING firm bosses have spoken of their relief after being able to return to East Lancashire.

A number of companies had to relocate when the Leeds Liverpool canal was shut by British Waterways at the beginning of August after drought conditions left reservoirs at record low levels.

But after recent rainfall the stretch of the canal between Barrowford and Wigan is re-opening today and the stretch between Barrowford and Gargrave, near Skipton will be opened on Wednesday.

Lee Shepherd, owner of Hapton Valley Boats, moved his business to Apperley Bridge marina, near Bradford.

He said: “We will be bringing our three boats over next week. It is a relief to be coming home. Doing a 75-mile journey three times a week wasn’t ideal."

Lesley Yates, who runs Canal Boat Cruises, in Riley Green, said their boats would be brought back from Apperley Bridge by customers next week.

“It has been testing travelling over there three times per week," she said.

"We hope British Waterways makes sure this doesn't happen again."

Restrictions will remain in place on the canal and it will only be open between 9am and 4pm until reservoir levels improve further.

Vince Moran, operations director for British Waterways, said: “Water is at a premium so we will continue to monitor the reservoirs on a daily basis and work with our customers to conserve as much water as possible in the canal so we aren’t forced to introduce further restrictions.

"We would like to express our sincere thanks to all of our customers, boating businesses and members of the public for their patience and understanding during this demanding time. "