A STRETCH of one of the country’s most popular and busiest canals will officially re-open today, Thursday, after repairs to an embankment that was washed away during September’s flooding.

More than 24 million litres of water and 12 thousand tonnes of stones were needed to restore the Trent and Mersey Canal in Dutton after flooding created a crater the size of 12 double decker buses in a section of the 200-year-old embankment.

The Canal & River Trust invested nearly £2.1million to complete the repairs, with a further £25,000 being contributed via donations from the public to allow the beauty spot to be enjoyed once again by boaters, walkers and nature lovers.

Vince Moran, operations director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be reopening this section of the Trent & Mersey Canal ahead of scheduel and in time for the main boating season.

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

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the support and kind donations from the public to help us with the repairs. The way that local enthusiasts, community groups, boaters and cyclists have rallied together to help us get the canal open again has been amazing.

“The incident has demonstrated the love that people have for canals, which are continuing to thrive two centuries after they were built.”

It is believed that the 18th century canal embankment became unstable as a result of prolonged rainfail during last autumn, which affected embankments around the country.

The British Geological Society reported that landslips in the UK increased four to five fold between July and December 2012 compared to previous years.

The Dutton breach saw water flood into a nearby farmer’s field, leaving a 40 metre hole in the canal embankment which shut the waterway and its towpath for more than seven months.

To guard against a repeat of the failure, the trust has installed new drainage at the base of the embankment to help disperse excess groundwater and a specialist flexible waterproof liner has been fitted to seal the canal.