A loop around South Manchester and North Cheshire

A loop around south Manchester and north Cheshire

A select group (ie there were four of us) of Moultoneers met at Chorlton Water Park in south Manchester, for a pleasant 35 mile circular ride, led by Mark Taylor. Despite being in the middle of the monsoon, the day was dry and bright, and a strange orange orb even appeared occasionally in the sky during the afternoon.
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We started out on a track alongside the Mersey, before joining the Bridgewater Canal towpath, recently resurfaced by Sustrans, and a pleasure to cycle on. A brief stretch on fairly busy roads through Altrincham was followed by minor roads to Dunham Park, a National Trust estate. It’s a lovely spot, deservedly popular on a Sunday morning. The deer population was all present and correct, and seemed happy to be inspected. We visited the cafe, upstairs in an old stable block, for tea and low calorie caramel confections, to set us on.

From Dunham we crossed a narrow bridge over the mighty Bollin , and then the evil A556, to arrive at Tatton Park, another National Trust property. It’s an extensive estate, regularly used for all kinds of events. Preparations were well underway for the Royal Horticultural Flower show which was due to start the following, week, and there was some kind of musical event scheduled for later in the afternoon on the lake shore. We cycled through the park, and then past the Italianate architecture of Knutsford (you could almost imagine you were in Tuscany, apart from the puddles) to arrive in Mobberley and the Railway Inn, our lunch stop. This is a fine pub, clearly favoured by cyclists. The local Dunham ale went down well, as did the food (though the fishcakes were obviously prepared in a different time zone to the other dishes).

Riding along small Cheshire country lanes we rejoined the Bollin valley at the point where it disappears under Manchester Airport’s second runway. The bikes were lifted over a gate (yes, a NS is lighter than a TSR), to get us along side the second runway, giving a close up view of planes taking off and landing, including a giant Airbus A380. The penalty for riding down the rough track was a puncture (though the glass shard that had penetrated the Marathon tyre was probably picked up earlier on Manchester’s streets). A spare tube meant a reasonably quick repair (once we had located a pump that worked properly…)

Then it was a fast run along tarmac back to our starting point - a bit later than planned (the fishcakes, waiting for the A380 to take off, and the puncture…).
A fine day’s excursion, on about the only dry day in this Mancunian “summer”. (Mark: “all down to careful planning”.)

David Butler, 19 July 2012