Rochdale Canal ride!

This Easter holiday me and my Mr kept tinkering with the idea of an s24o (as learnt from Ian) at Hyfield, because after having read Ian’s post I have been pestering Mr to do the same.

However we went to that famous DIY store for some stuff to finish off insulating and plasterboarding the garage ceiling (as our living room is right above it) and had a wonder in the garden section… well, bet you don’t need to guess we blew our holiday budget in there! BUT… we got a beautiful Japanese maple tree so all is good!

Anyhow… Yesterday my Mr showed me an article on the Guardian “Easy riders: 10 scenic cycle routes” and said… “we could do the Hebden Bridge ride tomorrow on the Rochdale canal“. I looked up the weather forecast (you know, you don’t want to assume there’ll be sunshine) and that was that!

Well… I am home, slightly aching but not as much as I was expecting, and I can definitely tell you that it was an amazing ride, especially as after having lunch in Todmorden we decided to cycle a bit further, and a bit further, and a bit further… well… we cycled all the way home!!

I may be bit achy with few bruises and grease marks… but I can’t tell you how wonderful I feel and so proud of my overall ride of 36 miles!

So here’s some pretty pictures and brief commentary… as pictures speak for themselves!

Hebden Bridge (well, don't know if it's THAT bridge)

We rode to Victoria station and got a train to Hebden Bridge. Once we got there we had a nice look around town and found a flea market fair… don’t need to say that to me twice! We had a delish coffee and cupcake for £1.60 (!) and I found an old-ish but still good OS map of Manchester for £1.50, which I will be able to use to plan more rides and not worry about marking it with notes etc!

fuel before the ride... you know... to wish us well!

pretty scenery only a couple of miles into our ride


Once we got to Todmorden we stopped at the pub next to the canal for lunch… and ended up having the biggest “Giant Yorkshire Pudding” ever with sausages and veg… getting going again was hard!

Instead of catching the train back we thought let’s continue a ‘little’… but as the weather was so nice (albeit a tad too much headwind for my liking) we ended up cycling all the way into Manchester!

Here we are close to the highest point of the Canal: 600ft above sea level. The surrounding landscape was breathtaking… I wish more people knew how beautiful this part of the world is!

We got to Durn and stopped to read about the Rochdale Canal history, I didn’t know it was reopened for navigation only in 2002!

Around Rochdale/Middleton (not sure exactly) the wind got stronger and stronger and turned headwind! Arghhhh! It got heavy going… but the view made up for it and we kept on pushing…

And so we rolled into Manchester, cycling through Miles Platting, which I really like. I think people should give Miles Platting a break, considering how much it has been let down by the local authority, developers and designers alike, there’s still so much energy and some great stuff goes on… for example have you heard of “Manchester Tart”? It’s a quirky recipe book that celebrates the culinary heritage of Miles Platting, Collyhurst and Ancoats! You can find more info here. I am not sure if you can still buy it. I’d love to be involved with some work with the community… I hope, one day 🙂

Looking over New Islington (I had to tip toe over the brick wall!)

Then we finished our super ride in Port Street Beer House for a well deserved cold drink!

The final 5 miles ride home after that cold drink was reaaaaaaally hard! My legs had seized up by then eheh 😀 but a few stretches once I got home and I am not too bad now!

Right! I am off watching the snooker final… that Judd Trump is quite unreal!

And about the Rochdale Canal… I recommend it to everyone! The fact that often it crosses villages with train stations means that if at any point you feel tired, you can easily hop back on and get back to Manc on a comfy seat. I think it’d be suitable, in shorter sections perhaps, for families with children too.

23 responses to “Rochdale Canal ride!

  1. Lovely day for it. I love the Rochdale Canal. That stretch from Tod to Littleborough that is deceptively hilly with all those locks – beautiful. I did Hebden to Sowerby Bridge last week – glorious. Glad you had such a great day 🙂

    • It was a good work out for my legs! At the end of every stretch coming to the locks we had to power through mini steep inclines 😉 the hardest were the down bits on very cobble-y paths… ouch!

  2. Sounds great. I have to concure its a nice part of the World although the ‘cycle gates’ along the towpath drive you mad!

    This route was part of my recent 100+ miles mini cycle tour. I went from Prestwich and picked up the canal at Heywood until Hebden Bridge where I stopped for cake before going up o’er moors to Haworth and wild camping that night. Next day was a longer ride home via Colne and Newchurch before picking up the Leeds-Liverpool canal at Blackburn until Chorley where I stopped for ice cream at ‘Fredericks’ before joining the A6 for home. 109 miles in all.

    Sounds like you’ll have no probs at all cycling to Liverpool.

    • Thanks! It was great to test myself for the Manc-Liv ride… nice to know that yes, I am capable of it eheh! I can wipe out those little niggling doubts 😉

    • I hope you get to do this ride, it’s really delightful and I can imagine being just a beautiful on a warm autumn day… with the colours of trees and landscapes changing to red and yellow!

  3. Sounds like y’both had a nice ride out :>)

    The Rochdale looks v.pictureque too.

    We’ve seen a bit of the snooker also & have enjoyed watching Judd – v.entertaining player, a bit like Ronnie O when he started out!

    • Ronnie O is still my favourite… I admire how he always looks for perfection! But yea this new kid is pretty good! A bit ‘cocky’ but in a good way 😉

    • I definitely recommend it : ) When Mr did the Man-Liv ride he said there were also children doing it, which reassured me no end! I am sure we’ll be fine : ) plus, we’ll take nice and easy anyway! If I go out for another ride at some point I’ll let you know though.

    • Yes, the bike + train combination is very good. I wish trains would provide more space for bikes and really allow customers to see it as a viable transport option!

  4. Hey ho …. I regularly charge up the canal to Hebden Bridge before getting the train back to Victoria for work. The best bit is that once you get past Summit then all the locks are downhill into Yorkshire! It’s surprising how much actual hill there is – makes you realise what an amazing feat of engineering a canal over the Pennines is.

    Don’t know if you’ve been to Blazing Saddles bike shop in Hebden. They’re really friendly. Also, if you have any kind of decent off-road bike there are quite a few ways you can get from Hebden back towards Rochdale in the hills, almost parallel to the canal but a bit more adventurous.

  5. Hiya
    I just stumbled on your blog whilst looking for a decent review of the Rochdale – Manchester ride down the canal. I’ve just moved back to Middleton after seven years down south, and was considering cycling down the canal as I’ll be working at the BBC in Salford Quays. Anyway, your blog has convinced me to give it a try, so thank you very much!

    • Hi Caroline! On a summery, sunny day I’d say it’s a lovely ride into or from work. The best thing is that you could always alternate it with a train + bike combo. A folding bike, for example, is great for that!

      Hope you’re enjoying being back up North! There’s a lovely cycling community, if you want to join in events etc.


  6. Really smart blog.

    Me and son just done mills hill to littleboro and back, in some of the worst rain I’ve ever bothered going out in. Think it was roughly 18mile but felt like 50…. hands wrinkled and clothes weighing a ton soaked….. absolutely loved it!!!!!

    Don’t know how you carried on after a full scran for dinner? No chance for me.

    Anyhow, like I say, top blog, top pics and commentary. Well played.

  7. You are indeed right that is hebden “bridge”! It’s a wonderful town, and the weather was so nice for you! I just wondered how long it took you approximately from Todmorden to Rochdale? I have an interview in Rochdale and I wondered if it’d be easy to navigate the canal on my bike, rather than try and sort public transport out.

    • Caitlin I’m so sorry I didn’t spot your comment. When I did that ride, few years ago, the towpath had ‘soft’ gravel for that section you’re asking me about, so it made the ride quite hard and bit tiring. This probably won’t be useful to your question about cycling to the meeting, but if I had spotted your comment in time I would have suggested getting the train there and if a nice day definitely cycle it back 🙂

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