Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Changing Face of the Mersey Valley and the Cheshire Ring Canals

Today is one of those calm, sunny, t-shirt but not too hot, days that scuppers the best laid plans for staying at home and getting jobs done. Whilst it was tempting to drive somewhere, I opted for a 40 mile round trip from home, on Stumpy, more or less all off road, and leaving the afternoon to get ‘stuff’ done. Like this report for instance!

The canal/Trans Pennine Trail circuit from home is an easy (only 200 metres of ascent in 40 miles) four hour trip that, whilst being mainly in Greater Manchester, makes the most of the countryside that extends almost into the city centre.

There are always changes to observe. These days there is a ‘wheelchair’ ramp at Jackson’s Boat bridge.


The rough and muddy path beside the River Mersey between Chorlton and Didsbury seems almost to have been converted into a roadway.


But further on the nice old track survives.


I’m sure that in days past we used this section of previously disused railway in East Didsbury as a (muddy and overgrown) cycle route. Today it has been reclaimed by the tram line, but at least there is a good cycle path next to the line.


Some of the muddy tracks in Reddish Vale have been coated with green tarmac!


To the east of the M60 motorway, crossed by a high footbridge, old signage remains from the early days of the Trans Pennine Trail, which opened in 2001.


Beyond Haughton Green, the TPT heads further east and the Peak Forest Canal is joined by those with a desire to return to Timperley for lunch. In places the towpath has been renewed (Sustraned?). You can also see that I’ve now got a bike mount for the Garmin eTrex10, to which I’d downloaded the route. It worked very well, but can you spot the temporary glitch?


In other places the towpath was extremely muddy, and having binned my mudguards (they kept falling off) I returned home covered in mud. Dukinfield Lift Bridge remains in pristine condition.


There’s a canal basin at the junction of the Peak Forest and Ashton Canals, with fairly newly converted mill buildings and old cobbled bridges sitting cheek by jowl.


A left turn saw me zooming along the Ashton Canal towpath, muddy in places, and cobbled in the area of the many locks on the route into Manchester. The bike’s suspension finally came into use on the fast cobbled descents enjoyed at each lock.


Large families of Canada Geese and their young were seen at frequent intervals, as were quite a number of barges heading towards Manchester.


In a previous posting ‘Some Bike Rides from Timperley’, I published a photo that enjoyed a view across the whole (construction) site near the City of Manchester Stadium. Privacy for footballers in training seems to have taken precedence over the view, as huge banks have been constructed, and trees have been planted since I was last here.


I passed barges going into Manchester, and I met some coming through Manchester, but the canal seemed to be almost empty of water north of Piccadilly. Those coming in from Ashton may have been able to exit via the Rochdale Canal, but I’m not sure how those coming from the direction of the Bridgewater Canal could get through.

A pause in Castlefield saw me finishing the flask of tea and other provisions that I’d half eaten outside the Visitor Centre at Reddish Vale.


Not long ago, the bridge below hadn’t been painted and the trams were all blue (the new ones are yellow).


After a long standing canal diversion at Old Trafford, the towpath that is re-joined is narrow and muddy. There ought to be future changes here, as this is the perfect venue for a cycleway away from busy roads all the way into Manchester’s City Centre. Currently only a brave few use it to commute.


I was back home by noon, and after a quick hose down I was ready to move on to the next job.

Here’s a rough idea of the route – 62km with 200 metres ascent, taking 4 hours, including a couple of 15 minute breaks. Basically – follow the Trans Pennine Trail until you reach the Peak Forest Canal, then follow that around to where it crosses the Trans Pennine Trail in Stretford. And there are other options.



John J said...

I'd almost forgotten how lovely our local canal network can be in the sunshine!

FellBound said...

The map of your route says it all. Loveliness available even in a heavily urbanised area.

Phreerunner said...

It's particularly good at this time of year David, as the banks of the canal are full of wildlife and flowers - mainly common ones, but here in Timperley there are lots of orchids and yellow iris.

The rights of way beside the canals and the rivers, not to mention the numerous disused railway branch lines, in Greater Manchester are great for walking and cycling. Albeit litter control and surface repairs will always be a maintenance issue, and there's always some sort of construction or demolition, opening or closure, going on somewhere... it's a dynamic environment.