We four intrepid riders met up in Chorlton and rode off up the Fallowfield loop line (ex-railway track), along the Ashton canal to the National Cycling centre for a cup of coffee in the café. We can highly recommend the grey comfy seats; it’s where the teams & their management eat, the food is good!
After a brief rest we set of again along some minor roads to join the Rochdale canal and followed it until forced to leave by the M60. To cross the M60 motorway there is a tunnel for the boats & a bridge for the pedestrians, cyclists etc, we re-joined the canal and carried on up to Middleton Junction where we transferred to the roads again.
Passing the JW Lees brewery we pedalled on to the centre of Middleton and then up the steep hill at Langley, pausing to re-group outside the church at the top of the hill. We spotted a spelling mistake, see photo. Passing this “chuirch” we knew the rest of the day was going to be a lot easier as we were at the highest point of the ride so everything else would be down hill for the rest of the day.
Rolling down the hill we passed through the Langley housing estate, a loose stone path down the side of the golf driving range and along a deeply pot holed lane into the village of Simister for lunch. We stopped in the Same Yet Inn, a JW Lees pub; an odd name caused by a miss heard comment to a sign writer some decades ago and has been re-iterated ever since. After our re-hydration and carvery meal we pedalled through the village before revelling in almost 3 miles of decent through an ever-decreasing urban landscapes, farm land and finally into woodlands in the Irwell valley.
We had joined National Route 6 and headed south through the woods to Agecroft; where there was once a coal pit, power station and block works all next to each other – how sensible, but sadly no more. Back on the roads heading towards Manchester city centre following NR6 we were diverted due to re-construction works on the banks of the Irwell so we went into the Castlefield basin an old canal junction & goods interchange – coal from the west along the Bridgewater canal, woollen goods from the east along the Rochdale canal and cotton from the ships in the Manchester ship canal.
We travelled along the Bridgewater canal for a mile then got back onto the river Irwell, passed the re-construction works, at the point where the river becomes the Manchester ship canal. Passing along the graffiti wall (a council approved site for artists to spray their work) and onwards into Media City. We all paid our respect to the Blue Peter Garden, reliving our respective childhoods with this re-located, shrunken gem.
There had been a closed road cycling event in Manchester that came in handy; we were the last cyclists across some busy roads around the Manchester United football ground just as the cones & diversion signs were being collected by the council workers.
A few more miles on minor roads and we were back at the start.
33 miles, no rain, slight wind, one hill, coffee stop, lunch stop, an afternoon of free wheeling and light pedalling, our tools stayed in their bags, good company and we all enjoyed ourselves.