A waterways charity is set to celebrate a major milestone in the restoration of a Montgomeryshire waterway.

Organisers at the Canal & River Trust say the milestone four-year, £4 million project, will see boats return to a section of the Montgomery Canal near Oswestry for the first time since the canal was closed due to a breach in 1936.

The Trust, which cares for the Montgomery and 2,000 miles of canals, has been working with volunteers from the Shropshire Union Canal Society and contractors to upgrade nearly five miles (8km) of towpath, restore 1¼ miles (2km) of the canal to navigation

Canal & River Trust project manager David Hennessey said: “The Montgomery is a very special canal and its restoration has required a unique solution. The absence of boat movements over the last 80 years has allowed the man-made channel to become colonised by a wide range of rare flora and fauna. By creating a new three hectare wildlife habitat, we will be able to protect and conserve these species for generations to come, while enabling boats to return by excavating the main channel into a navigation again.”

“Completion of the winding hole is a particular milestone as this will allow boats to travel another 1¼ miles along the beautiful canal. Slowly but surely, we are achieving the major goal of connecting the mainline Montgomery down to Welshpool.”

The Canal & River Trust works with 15 partner organisations which make up the Montgomery Canal Partnership. The Partnership aims to restore the canal fully within the next decade as a haven for people and nature.

Montgomery Canal Partnership chair John Dodwell said: “This is a great step forward and will mean 60% of this historic, lovely canal has been restored. We look forward to more support from the public - both by volunteers and by donations - to enable us to make further progress. Details can be found by visiting www.restorethemontgomerycanal.uk.”

For more information about visiting your local canal, the Montgomery Canal restoration or becoming a Friend of the Canal & River Trust, please go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.