At last Saturday morning’s parkrun Andy Wright suggested an alternative Sunday morning bike ride route. I’d been planning the usual anti-clockwise Trans Pennine Trail (TPT)/Cheshire Ring circuit (most recently described here), but the attractions of a mid ride café swung my decision in favour of a ride based on Andy’s suggestion.
An 8.30 start saw me heading along a misty Bridgewater Canal towards Lymm.
The nice new towpath ends beyond the Bay Malton at Oldfield Brow, with officious looking signage requesting cyclists to dismount. That’s not really necessary in dry conditions, but after a lot of rain the towpath does get very muddy and is perhaps best avoided until a few miles beyond Lymm. So this is a ‘summer’ route.
Nobody complained about me staying astride the bike. Courtesy plays a part in achieving that result.
At Little Bollington, in view of The Swan With Two Nicks, somebody had pulled a plug and let the bathwater in.
The sun came out.
Approaching Lymm, several barges were under way, enjoying another lovely summery morning.
Looking back, the mist seemed to want to chase me all the way to Runcorn.
At Thelwall the M6 is very close by (it passes overhead) but there are some magical sections of the canal.
Rather than stick to the towpath all the way to my planned departure point at Red Brow Lane, I left it at London Road, by Thorn Marine in Stockton Heath. This pleasant option is shown on the map below, returning to the towpath at Acton Grange Bridge.
Soon afterwards, at Keckwick Lane, Norton Water Tower came into view. It’s a useful landmark as my route was to pass very close to the tower.
Leaving the canal at Red Brow Lane as planned, it was an easy ride along quiet roads, past the Water Tower, to Phoenix Park and the delights of the Urban Café.
I sat outside with a couple whose children were playing in the extensive and comprehensive play zone. They told me the area had been rejuvenated following the demolition of some tower blocks and their replacement with low-rise, low-cost housing. The café is certainly a great facility. I must have looked hungry, as their cake portion control went a bit awry! The racks in front of me are for bicycles.
Suddenly there was a huge commotion. A load of bikes arrived. Most of them seemed to be out of control. I spotted Andy Wright (grinning inanely!) in their midst before he got carted off to hospital….
After the wreckage had been cleared and the ambulances had been despatched to wait in queues outside a variety of hospitals, I pedalled off through the park and soon reached the canal towpath again.
It was summer. Seriously hot.
I left the towpath at the first bridge, near Windmill Hill, and made my way to the Trans Pennine Trail. Minor roads led me to cross the Expressway at Pitts Heath. Immediately after that I saw an off-road turning to the left. I should have taken it; I’m sure it would have by-passed the road that loops through Moore before heading to the Ship Canal. The following picture shows my route to the TPT.
This really was a pretty simple route, as once the TPT had been reached it was simply a question of following the signposts along a route with which I was already familiar. The Manchester Ship Canal was crossed and then re-crossed at Latchford Locks, where I could look back to the Latchford Viaduct, the cost of maintenance of which finally laid the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway to rest in 1985 after 132 years. I was heading for the trackbed of that railway.
In the other direction, traffic could be seen on the M60 bridge in Salford.
The pace quickened as I headed under the late summer tree canopy along the trackbed all the way to Broadheath. The picture below is deceptive – there were lots of people about on the summery morning.
A short road section led me home. Dairyhouse Lane has a right angle bend around which somebody failed to make it last night.
Here’s the route – 62 km with up to 500 metres ascent. Allow two hours each way to and from the café, and enjoy a half hour break there…
Thanks for the suggestion, Andy.