Manchester to Macclesfield: Traffic Free

I have been looking for a way to make my regular journey from Macclesfield back to Manchester without having to ride on the excessively fast road route, the speed and volume of traffic prevent the road route from being enjoyable and the speed of the traffic effectively means I have to ride faster too, which is tiring and prevents me from being able to ride this route with most other people.
The Middlewood way offers a traffic-free route from the centre of Macclesfield to Marple near Stockport. The only problem with this is that the most direct road from Marple to Manchester is particularly hilly, has a high volume of fast traffic, parked cars and HGVs thanks to the nearby situation of Offerton Sand and Gravel LTD. However, a canal does head North from Marple, eventually meeting the Ashton canal near Ashton town centre. This then leads back to Manchester city centre, ending near Manchester Piccadilly railway station.

The route is mostly very nice, except for a few less appealing sections, particularly near the Ashton end of the Ashton-Marple section of canal. When studying the map, there are a few sections where the canal cannot be seen on this map, heading from Ashton to Marple, the first of these is a long tunnel where a towpath is provided. The second is a tunnel which requires a detour, which is roughly drawn on the map. The route ends at Macclesfield Tesco, the railway station is not far from there and could be walked if preferred. Just across the road from Macclesfield Station is The Waters Green Tavern which I would recommend due to its decent selection of cask ales and Belgian beers. If any of you do try the route I have provided, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Towpath Closure Mystery Solved

I managed to get a decent amount of time out of the bike yesterday. Before leaving the city centre, I bumped into LC and Northwest Is Best who were taking pictures for their new joint project. I cycled into the city with LC who was on her Pashley, Vita. We cycled through the newly re-designed junction on Booth Street East, which seems to have been re-designed with the aim of decreasing cyclist safety and discouraging cycling.

When the weather is nice, I usually travel to Rochdale by riding to Failsworth and then continuing along the canal. As the weather was so nice, and the traffic so bad, I decided to get onto the Rochdale canal in the city centre and use it all the way. This goes through some of the less bike-friendly parts of the route and some of the more dilapidated parts of Manchester, but was still fairly pleasant.

I had previously spotted that a section of the Rochdale canal towpath was closed, at the time it seemed to be for no apparent reason.


The beginning of the closed section. Yes I am riding the towpath on a Brompton

The crushed gravel surface is new. This section of the canal had previously been nothing more than a narrow rut in the earth, forming one of the two sections of the route which were essentially impassable after rainfall.


The work has not yet finished, the crushed gravel path ends abruptly and the old path can be seen continuing on.


Further on some of the groundwork had been completed but the crushed gravel surface has not yet been put down.


The crushed gravel path returns a bit further along, suggesting that this whole section of canal will have a lovely new path.

The fun wasn’t over yet though, as I reached Sandbrook Park, I noticed my steering was off and looked down to see a front wheel puncture, the first front wheel puncture I’ve had in my entire life. Luckily I had a spare tube, unluckily my mini-pump is Presta only, and Brompton-sized tubes are generally Schraeder. I later managed to borrow a pump and get the bike into good shape for my ride home later that evening (On-road, via Oldham to avoid the ups and downs).

Vehicular cycling can be nice when there are no other vehicles on the road.