RSF - The Off Road Cycling Club

The Adventure Starts Here

Starting from Moses Gate Country Park a circular route was planned, primarily off-road and making the most of routes built during Lancashire’s industrial hey-day; now this area is part of Greater Manchester. Slightly after 10-00am we started the climb through Darcy Lever’s gravel quarries,we toiled up to join the old Bolton to Black Lane Village Railway which passes Bradley Fold and which gave us the opportunity to visit its garden centre’s café for elevenses.

Refreshed and back on the railway we headed to the aforesaid Black Lane Village and at the old rail junction we took the branch down towards Radcliffe. The many motorcycle traps on this section gave everyone the chance to practice their bunny-hopping skills, or not as the case may be.Arriving at the Bolton – Bury Canal we joined NCN6 for a short distance before crossing the busy road to the town center. Here we took time out to pose in the frame of “Radcliffe in Bloom”. Re-joining the towpath we were soon in the area of many former collieries, all at one time or another served by the canal.

The partially restored Mount Sion Steam Crane stands on the towpath, between Little Lever and Radcliffe, as a permanent reminder of the area's industrial past. It dates from around 1884 and was used to lift containers of coal from boats and lower them into the yard of the Mount Sion Works below. It was a favourite haunt of that famous Bolton lad Fred Dibnah, and was depicted in a number of his TV appearances.

Mount Sion Works is still in use manufacturing fibre composites, in a previous incarnation it was a bleach works, with a water wheel on the Irwell, and to keep everyone entertained it boasted a brass band.

The next bridge marks the site of Ladyshore Colliery which closed in 1949, and nearby the Black Cat Colliery.

The canal remains high on the hillside above the Irwell gorge, supported by massive retaining walls. These led to numerous problems, principally the famous 1936 breach which closed much of the canal as the retaining wall collapsed and the canal was swept into the valley below.

Passing through “Meccano Land” at Nob End we left the towpath at Prestolee Locks to ride through the woods back into Moses Gate Country Park to end today’s ride.We enjoyed wonderful weather and company; just what the Fellowship ordered.


The photos I took can be viewed here on our Flickr account.

See you all at Accrington’s Tesco next time, for a ride over the Martholme Viaduct,Brian.