A NEWLY refurbished bridge has opened to the public as part of a new cycle route between Bolton and Bury.

The enclosed viaduct over the A666 and River Tonge has been described as a "sky walk" by delighted walkers and cyclists.

The cycle route follows the old railway line between Bolton and Bury and runs from from Scholey Street in Bolton to Knowsley Street in Bury, to provide a safe route for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders.

It was funded by £1.4 million from the government's Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Keen walker and Westhoughton resident Harold Houghton, aged 69, who lives in Hunger Hill, is delighted with the results.

He said: "It's a lovely bridge to walk across and looks really good. It's fantastic for Bolton to get something that you wouldn't usually see here. You can walk from Manchester Road all the way through Leverhulme Park and on to Bury.

"The bridge is enclosed, so people are safe walking across it too. It's nice to have something so unique here — it's like a sky walk."

Cllr David Chadwick, cabinet member for highways and transport, said the enclosed bridge and cycle way provides a safe route for both recreation and those commuting to work.

He said: "We are working to provide a network of cycle ways and this is one of them. It is an important link for people to use for recreational purposes and also for people who cycle to work.

"The money has come from a central government grant to promote cycle ways. I think the last train that took that route was sometime in the late '60s or early '70s.

"Anything that enhances Bolton is a good thing for the town."

He added: "The bridge is a high viaduct and we have a duty to try and prevent people doing silly things which could see them hurt themselves or fall off."

A council spokesman said: "The refurbished railway bridge over Radcliffe Road is part of the new cycle route between Bolton and Bury, which provides a safe route for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders of all ages and abilities.

"Other work we've done on the cycle route includes putting a new bridge in over Lower Darcy St and refurbishing Burnden Viaduct."