Guest post (Part 2): Exploring the North West from Manchester

Apologies for lateness of this second part, a mix of birthday celebration and a wee trip back home to see family meant today is the first day I logged into my blog.

Without further ado, here’s Georgie‘s guest post on exploring what’s on our doorstep (and that I, for one, know very little)


Manchester is in a wonderful location. It’s got fantastic rail and
motorway links to some of the most beautiful countryside on offer in
England. The rolling hills of Cheshire, the beautiful seaside round
the Sefton Coast, The Peak District and The Pennines are all within
around an hours travel from the city. Try checking out rail offers in
the area or using the duo tickets that many rail companies also offer.

Getting my bike out and about and letting her show me around,
exploring the north west is one of my favourite things to do at
weekends. Getting a picnic together, planning a route and going for a
leisurely ride, back home in time to make tea too.

Using Sustrans website to see cycle routes is a great starting place
to plot a ride.  On road and off road sections are colour co-ordinated
on their mapping system, which is also available as an application for
your phone. Routes are also now on Google Maps.

An easy one for starters. The Rochdale Canal is beautiful heading out
to the steep slopes of the Calderdale Valley. It’s a lovely route all
year round. Riding out from the centre you go through Ancoats and
Failsworth and out into the Pennines. A great break point is coming
off the canal at either Smithy Bridge or Littleborough (about 15
miles). From here follow the signs to Hollingworth Lake. The lake has
a cafe half way round, there’s also fish & chip shops on the main
street, a  pub eatery at one end of the lake & a fancier restaurant at
the other end. A loop of the lake is a must!
Back to the canal and the downhill fun of the locks! There are over a
dozen of them to keep your momentum going as you head towards
Calderdale. Lovely scenery all the way down into Todmorden (about 6
miles from Hollingworth). This is another great stopping place with
cafes, a good market at the weekend and afew evening eateries. There’s
a train station here, so this is one place you could get your return
train back to the centre.  If you feel like going a bit further,
Hebden Bridge is another five miles away and has lots of cafes and
restaurants to choose from and is a great little place for a visit –
lots of curious shops, great architecture (really tall terraced
houses!) and is nice for a wander around. The train back to Mcr goes
from here too.

Another of my favourite routes out of Manchester is the NCN6 north –
this is a little more challenging as it’s a bit further – a total of
about 35 miles over varied terrain. My other half lives in Blackburn
so when we do this, we tend to get the train to the city and ride
home. Blackburn is a natural end point for this ride as it’s on the
trainline to Mcr.  When I first did this ride, I’d expected to pass
rather a lot of northern industrial wasteland, but it turned out to
have beautiful varied landscape all the way.  The signs are mostly
really good, but do keep your eyes open for the blue signs on lamp

It starts behind MOSI and heads out through Salford before getting out
into the country parks of Clifton, the fun (albeit somewhat muddy)
Outwood Trail, a quick trip through Radcliffe and you’re onto the
Bolton Bury Canal – this canal isn’t open to water traffic so it’s full
of plantlife and lots of wildlife with great views from it’s elevated
position.  You come out at Elton Reservoir before heading towards Bury
and skirting the town centre to veer towards Tottington.  It’s a bit
on road here for a while, look out for the right turn at Darlington
Close where a new off road section of the route has recently opened
with the completion of the Woolfold Bridge where you follow an old
railway track before using some residential streets for a gentle
incline upwards into Nuttall Park at Ramsbottom which has a stunning
view of Peel Tower looming over you. Ramsbottom is a lovely little
town – perhaps a nice stopping place to have a leg stretch and find a
coffee shop. From here you head off towards Stubbins – one thing I
love about Rossendale is the names of places! The disused railway here
is a gem – it’s raised up so you dont feel your tucked away in a
ditch. It is tree lined though and has a fantastic downhill part way
along (take care not to get too carried away here – it’s well used by
other cyclists and pedestrians and has a turn right at the bottom of
the hill).  This brings you out at a quaint hamlet called Irwell Vale
– you’ve pretty much followed the path of the River Irwell all this

Follow the signs and go up that hill. It might require some pushing
your bike and walking! It’s quite a steep rocky climb, but the view of
Musbury Tor at the top is worth it. Take the right hand track that
goes down hill. From here the route takes you on road up towards
Haslingden and round to Rising Bridge (McD here if you need it!
or a Post Office that does butties and treats). Turning off the road
the route goes along the Woodnook Greenway- three miles of down hill
on good tarmac into Accrington. It brings you out at The Globe, which
was one of the biggest mills in the area, before following the railway
line at the edge of the town (take the right hand turn under the
bridge), across the road, down a residential area and onto the Leeds
Liverpool canal. Turn left and follow this all the way back to
Blackburn. This requires a full day to take it at a chilled out speed
and allow time for breaks. You certainly feel like you’ve achieved a
great ride by the end of it.

Woolfold Bridge


Hebden Bridge (on the Rochdale Canal)

{All photography by Georgie}


2 responses to “Guest post (Part 2): Exploring the North West from Manchester

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