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Despite Jeanette being sadly out of action with a rib problem, today brought a good turnout for a Monday morning “better than going to work” bike ride.
Sue planned to turn back at Jackson’s Boat Bridge, pictured above, but on such a lovely day was persuaded to continue. Richard and Paul are regulars, and Alastair joined us on his first such ride; we may see him a few times before he starts a new job in June.
Despite its looks, the ancient bridge has been deemed inadequate for wheelchairs, and demolition was recently proposed. However, it has a reprieve – on the basis that a new bridge will be built next to it that will be more amenable to disabled access. I hesitate to comment.
So all five of us pedalled along to join the Loopline at St Werburgh’s Road.
I’ve described this ride before – here
, and the route is given in detail below, so I’ll be brief just here…..
The path becomes more countrified as it heads out towards Ashton. We paused for a while on this bench in Abbey Hey, before continuing to the Ashton Canal towpath – part of the Cheshire Ring canal system.
Next stop: the Velodrome, for coffee and cake, and the removal of a disintegrated rear mudguard from Sue’s bike. Thanks to the staff at Evans Cycles who did that free of charge.
Then it was on through Manchester to Castlefield, where I always seem to stop for a picture in the same place.
It’s an easy ride back to Timperley from here – a 42 km circuit with about 100 metres gradual ascent along the Loopline.
The map below shows the route from Sale, Timperley being a couple of km further down the canal, and below the map is a detailed route description, as requested by one of my readers.
A Fallowfield Loopline/Cheshire Ring circuit from Sale (37 km/23 miles)
From Sale, take the canal towpath past Dane Road and under the M60 motorway. Then, immediately after crossing the River Mersey (look out for Kingfishers), take a narrow path to the left, enclosed by brambles etc.
Emerge at a junction where you turn left, go over a small bridge, then turn right onto the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT). Follow the TPT to go under the canal after a few metres, at Cut Hole Bridge.
You are now on Hawthorn Road, along which you continue for a short way before taking the TPT path to the right, briefly beside the River Mersey.
Soon, go right to cross a small stream and carry your bikes over a wooden barrier. Turn left, with the stream on your left, and continue through woodland to reach a small car park beyond a gate.
Turn right here, to reach a track where you turn right again, to return to the banks of the Mersey, where you turn left and proceed to Jackson’s Boat Bridge.
(For a longer route, you can continue along the TPT, through Stockport, to join the Cheshire Ring near Hyde – a 55-60 km outing, most recently described here
Turn left and follow the path, keeping to the right until you reach the tram lines at Hardy Lane.
Use the cycle track down Hardy Lane to cross the main road at the lights, then switch to the shared pavement to continue past schools on your left.
Cross the tram track that splits from the East Didsbury line and heads towards the airport, then turn left along the path towards St Werburgh’s Road Metrolink Station. Cross the East Didsbury line and continue left towards the platform.
Take the first right turn. This gets you on to the Fallowfield Loopline. (There are other ways of accessing it.)
Continue along the dismantled railway (“Loopline’ = dismantled railway), for about 3 km, when you leave it and rise to the left then right to cross Wilmslow Road. Here, go straight over and re-join the cycleway that drops down and resumes its course along the old railway line, soon passing under the A34 road.
Continue along the Loopline, noting a short tunnel where Stockport Road in Levenshulme passes overhead.
Continue for a further 4-5 km, until you reach a point where to continue forward you would have to go down a road (Boothdale Drive). Turn sharp right here before the houses and head for a few metres beside a fence on your left. At the end of this fence, don’t go down the hill that leads straight on. Take a 90 degree left turn and proceed through a ginnel to reach Booth Road.
Cycle over the railway bridge, past Fairfield Station, and take the first right down Clarendon Road. A nice wide road, at the end of which go straight across the B6390 onto Kershaw Lane.
After a few metres turn left onto the Ashton Canal towpath, part of the Cheshire Ring route that you will follow all the way back to Sale. After 4 km you reach the unmistakable bridge that leads to the National Cycle Centre. Turn left and double back over the bridge for refreshments and repairs. (The staff at Evans Cycles here are helpful.)
Suitably refreshed, return to the towpath. It soon crosses via steep cobbles under Alan Turing Way to gain the right bank of the canal. Continue through Ancoats and past relatively new canalside housing.
At a small bridge beyond which there is currently (March 2019) a diversion sign, don’t go over the bridge. Instead, turn right to reach Ducie Street after a few metres. Turn left here. Take the first right down Dale Street. Immediately on your right, there’s a way down to the Rochdale Canal. Descend the cobbles and double back along the towpath, under buildings, to emerge at Chorlton Street, which you cross to continue down Canal Street, where there is no towpath.
(If you miss the Dale Street turn, or are nervous about the route under buildings, just continue straight ahead on roads/pavements, to reach Chorlton Street and Canal Street.)
When you reach Princess Street, after a short section of paving at the end of Canal Street, look for an opening on the left that crosses the canal and returns you to the towpath.
Double back again and follow the narrow towpath past more locks, looking out for the arrow on a coping stone that points to the location of a plug (yes, just like a giant bath plug!) that allows the canal to be drained into the River Tib when being cleaned.
This leads to Castlefield, where you cross over Castle Street and cycle over the Merchant’s Bridge. Maybe pause for a short break and a chat with tourists here.
After crossing the bridge, double back along the towpath. Follow this all the way to Sale, crossing over the canal at Throstle Nest Bridge, near where the Metrolink line to the Trafford Centre is being built (March 2019), then passing Manchester United’s stadium and crossing another bridge at Waters Meet.
(Here, a right turn would take you along the route of the original Bridgewater Canal, past the Trafford Centre to the swing bridge at Barton.)
Continue, bearing left under a bridge and heading past a small marina to Stretford and beyond. Note that the canal opened in 1761 and ran from Worsley to Stretford, the extension to Castlefield being completed in 1765. Other extensions occurred later and some extensions, such as one to Stockport, never came to fruition.
This 38 km route from Sale should take between three and four hours, depending on the length of your stops.
I hope this is helpful. If you plan to follow the route using this guidance, I suggest you copy and paste the text onto a word document, resize the text so that you can easily read it, and take a printed version with you, using Google maps if necessary if you get displaced at any point. I’d point out that there are many more off-road routes to be enjoyed around Manchester, some of which are referred to within these pages