RSF - The Off Road Cycling Club

The Adventure Starts Here

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A very healthy turnout of fourteen riders congregated in the cafe at Sale Water Park for a brew and breakfast, for those so inclined, before we set off on a watery ride.  Thankfully the water remained in the Bridgewater Canal and the River Irwell rather than dropping on our heads from the sky!


32627212731 7092129248 o32710041946 b768f2d283 oPeel Holdings, not renowned in these parts for their generosity, must have found some money from somewhere - probably European Money, but that’s another story - to upgrade the towpath of the Bridgwater Canal and what was once a muddy and occasionally treacherous ride to the swing bridge at Barton was now a breeze!  The canal swing aqueduct, opened in 1893 is always worth a few minutes to explore and wonder at and speculate about how it actually works.  


Find out more here:


Though canal boats can cross the aqueduct, we cannot so it’s over the swing road bridge then up the road or pavement until the towpath magically reappears and we trundle on towards Monton.  There we briefly pick up route 55 before striking north along a former railway line to meet the East Lancs Road.  Fortunately this very busy dual carriageway has a cycle route alongside it and we were able to negotiate our way towards Manchester again before coming off and heading under the railway on a cycle track which popped us out into an eerily quiet, even for a Sunday, trading estate built on the former Agecroft Colliery which made the Marie Celeste look positively busy!   Thus, after a little foray downhill towards the Irwell at Kersal Dale we reached the farthest point of our ride.


For the rest of the morning it’s follow the Irwell along Route 6 making innumerable river crossings on brightly painted footbridges.  Interestingly the nearer the city we came the more challenging the barriers to other vehicle on the bridges became.  

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Only when the route pops up onto the busiest road in Salford did I lose my nerve a little.  The cut-throughs I have used in the past to regain the river seemed to be blocked so an interesting detour, involving a close view of the former Threlfall’s Brewery, now a swish business village and an Evangelical modern church and a fairly busy road, brought us to Manchester’s People’s History Museum cafe, appropriately called the Left Bank Cafe, for more than one reason!

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Here we enjoyed simple but sustaining fare (some even had seconds including Eric who hadn’t even had firsts!) and a good long chat and some of us had a quick look round the exhibits including a wonderful section about the origin of the Clarion movement, of which the Cycling Section was but one offshoot, albeit the most well known with branches still going strong throughout the country.


Read more about the Clarion here:


All that remained was to pick our way through Spinningfields Up-Market Shopping and Finance Centre - it would have been fun on a weekday - and on to the Castlefield Basin to pick up the canal once more and wend our way back to the Water Park.


Thanks everyone for exceptional good cheer and fellowship.

 View photos of the ride on Flickr here:

Rob Newton