This was a bike ride with Richard and Jenny, in celebration of Richard's 35th birthday. Sue was also invited, and we assembled on the canal towpath outside 'The Bridge', by Dane Road. A passer-by kindly took the picture shown above.
We chose the Bolton/Bury route that I've cycled on 10 June and on 29 July, as described in earlier postings here and here.
It's a long, gentle incline from Monton up the loopline to Bolton, so a well positioned bench after 20 km offers an opportunity for a welcome break.
As on previous occasions, and despite it being Richard's birthday, we eschewed the delights of Starbucks (on the route as it leaves Bolton) and continued through Moses Gate Country Park to join the towpath of the disused Bolton, Bury and Manchester Canal.
In places the sweet scent of Himalayan Balsam was almost overpowering.
We paused on the Meccano bridge to view the disused locks that were once busy with passengers heading to Manchester from Bolton and Bury.
Lunch was enjoyed, despite a shower of rain, on a Meccano picnic bench the other side of the bridge. Richard was given a birthday present that took a bit of a hammering here, and may not have survived the day.
Leaving the canal near Sunny Bank Mill, on the outskirts of Radcliffe, we soon joined good tracks that follow the course of the River Irwell into Salford. We passed some attractive small reservoirs in Prestwich Forest Park.
After a short section of road, our route crossed an attractive footbridge across the River Irwell, before muscling its way through Salford to re-join the Bridgewater Canal towpath near Castlefield.
The showers started to merge into each other, and Sue had to be coaxed from under several bridges, but we did eventually make it home, just a little damp, after leaving R and J to find their own way home from Sale, before gorging themselves on the fudge from Liverpool.
Here's the route I took on 10 June - repeated today apart from a short section in Salford that I got wrong in June. Click on the image for a better version. From Timperley it's about 57 km, and takes 4 to 5 hours.
An excellent ride. Thanks for your company, everyone.