Don’s flier for this walk also included a route description:
A City United by Canals
We will catch the Metrolink Tram to Stretford, where we will join the Bridgewater Canal and walk towards Manchester passing Old Trafford and onwards past Pomona Docks to join the Cheshire Ring through the City Centre and the Gay Village to pick up the Rochdale Canal for a short time and then join the Ashton Canal where we will walk to the Etihad Stadium.
At the Etihad Stadium we shall walk down Joe Mercer Way to Philips Park where we will cross the River Medlock and enter the Jewish Cemetery and then a bit of road walking to re-join the Rochdale Canal at Newton Heath and walk back to the City Centre to catch the Metrolink Tram home from Shudehill.
On a rainy morning the Timperley contingent made the short trip to Stretford, walked there and back to the A56 bridge, then shivered under the bridge next to the ‘Stretford Reach’ sculpture whilst Don and his disciples made their way to these ‘foreign parts’ from their rendezvous point in Radcliffe.
What a rabble! ‘Plodder’ numbers seem to be on the increase, with 16 turning up for this towpath ramble. Much to the annoyance of the cyclists, Canadian Geese and small children in push chairs who got booted into the canal by the unruly hikers. Well, perhaps they would have been if they’d ventured out into the rain to confront this bunch of miscreants.
The newly surfaced towpath now leads past Watersmeet and all the way to the long-standing diversion around some construction work in Old Trafford.
The diversion afforded us the opportunity to admire the two "Skyhook" sculptures that were unveiled in 1995 as part of the regeneration of the Trafford Park Industrial Estate. "Skyhooks" was commissioned from Brian Fell who actually produced two 17-metres high hooks and chains. The first is pictured below at the entrance to the Park, and the second one, pictured above, is located on the other side of the old Telephone Exchange near Wharf End.
Don’s well researched route passed some convenient picnic benches in Castlefield where the rain eased for a while as we tucked into our jam butties.
Luckily, there were exactly 16 portions of cake, with which to bribe the assembled entourage into a self-timed attendance record.
Soon it was time to leave – heading into the complexity of the canal system at Castlefield. Looking back, that’s the Wharf pub – an excellent place that despite the lack of custom gained from our party graciously allowed the rabble to use their ‘facilities’.
The Beetham Tower loomed in front of us through the gloom of the rainy January day.
Can you spot the bird box? We saw lots today.
Mike needed a hand to cross this lock, but all except one of the party managed to cross without incident.
“We’ve lost one, Don” shouted Ken after a discreet shove had seen off an elite poser.
After rubbing him down (Barbara did that) and sending him home, the rest of us continued to a ‘light blue zone’ that had some members of the party drooling inanely over something like Ardwick Association FC, and others running for cover.
Following the route so adequately provided by Don above, we soon made it to Philips Park, where Don produced his second instalment of jam butties and announced a second lunch break.
It didn’t last very long, as unaware of this ‘Plodder’ tradition, most of us had eaten all we had at the first opportunity in Castlefield.
Not to worry, it was a good spot to pause for a cuppa before heading across the River Medlock and into the Jewish Cemetery.
We soon found ourselves heading back into Manchester along the Rochdale Canal on a route oft described on these pages. In fact, there’s nothing new about any of this walk, apart from some of Don’s clever jinks through Castlefield, hence the introduction of a fictional element. (I can confirm that no children, cyclists or old men were drowned by thugs during this walk.)
Here’s the route which, including our there and back to Stretford stroll at the start, amounted to some 20 km, with minimal ascent, and took a shade over four and a half hours.
Thanks go to Don for organising this and for so charismatically gaining a record turnout in rainy Manchester when anyone with any sense was out playing in the snow that currently graces our surrounding countryside.