Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bolton's Non-Existent Cycle Route

Just north of the boundary between Bolton and Salford the cycle map for Bolton shows a cycle route on the north side of the M61 between Buckley Lane and Worsley Road.

This cycle route does not exist, and never has done. It is a fantasy dreamed up by somebody at Bolton Council or TfGM.

This is the thick woodland at the western end, no sign of a path here.

At the eastern end the alleged path goes straight on from here into the thick woodland.

If you look along the motorway you can see that this woodland is very thick and runs all along the north side of the motorway.


There is no cycle path here,  whatever Bolton or TfGM might think.

This may be yet another case of council officers believing that we can all cycle through trees.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Colliery Line - Highfield to Linnyshaw

This route picks up at the same place as Roe Green Loopline 3, M61 to Bolton and also connects with Roe Green Loopline 2, Walkden to the M61 by crossing the M61 on Anchor Lane.

It follows the route of a mineral line to the south of a housing estate in Highfeld. This line linked Brackley Colliery to the west and Ashton's Field Colliery to the east and then onwards, turning towards the south and finishing where it meets the A6 in Linnyshaw nearly 3 miles later.

The path starts just to the south of the houses on Anchor Road, to the north of the M61.

Initially path is very narrow, muddy and strewn with rubbish

and there is this dreadful set of barriers to add to the grim nature of the area.

However, within a few yards, the path improves

and after about 300yds the path crosses the line of the Roe Green Loopline, this track went underneath at this point. The turn to the left takes you to Bolton, keep to the right for this route.

Shortly after a short branch line turned off into the centre of Farnworth, just before the path is interupted by the newly built Pear Tree Drive, and turns into a pavement for a short while, via this dreadful barrier.

Just after the path escapes the road again,

for a short while

only to be interrupted again by Lucas Road. Here the path kinks to the right to regain the trackbed.

From here the path escapes the road for a while.

However, at some point the path goes away from the railway route to avoid the M61

finally ending up at Buckley Lane / Cleggs Lane where there is a wooden kissing gate to negotiate.

Here you have to turn right to cross the M61.

At this point the TfGM map shows a path continuing on this side of the motorway, but this is a cycling officer's hallucination, but more of that in another post.

Once across the motorway, turn left into the recently renovated Ashton's Field. This is the former site of Ashton Field's Colliery.

Turn to the left after the gate, and over this bridge.

Just beyond you will find this folly, a series of lock gates without a canal, supposedly reflecting the canals deep underground here in the coal mines.

The path carries on over another bridge

then heads towards Windmill Road. Just before, turn left through this very, very narrow barrier.

Now the path has returned to the railway trackbed and heads between houses on either side.

Gradually, the path decays with occasional potholes

and then at this point is forced up to the level of Worsley Road North, as the bridge ahead is blocked.

At the top of the ramp, turn left, then right across the road into a car park, and in the far right corner is this gate and barrier to negotiate before getting back to the path.

Once beyond you enter Blackleach Park.

Here the trackbed used to cross Blackleach Reservoir, but now the northern half is filled in, so the reservoir only exists on the right of the path.

The path is joined by a track from the left, and at the end of the resovoir, cross through the gap in the wooden fence and onto the track.

A little further along there was a junction with a track turning away to the left. This reaches a bridge over the M61 and a path using that bridge crosses here

and the route ahead is obstructed by another anti-cycling barrier.

Now the path degrades to a narrow dirt path, with a bridle-way on the right.

The path degrades further, till at the crossing with Mill Lane it has become very muddy. Here there are further anti-cycling barriers.

Beyond, the path is rough and muddy,

and soon reaches the A6 in Linnyshawwhere the path is very muddy, and turns to the left to reach road level via a narrow gap as the bridge has been filled in.

Running parallel to the A6 at this point is the Thirlmere Aqueduct which the path goes over to reach the road.

To the south, the path continues, but is too narrow and steep for a bicycle, so the only option here is the road.

View Highfield to Linnyshaw in a larger map

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ashton Canal 4 - Fairfield to Ashton

This two and a half mile stretch of path runs along the Ashton Canal towpath from the junction with the Hollingwood Branch Canal, known as Fairfield Junction to the junction with the Peak Forest Canal, Dunkfield Junction and on to the end of the canal towpath in Ashton, where it turns into the Huddersfield Canal. This is a continuation from Ashton Canal 3 - Clayton to Fairfield.

This section was ridden with Ian Tate, who features in many of these photographs.

The first bridge, under Fairfield Road, is very narrow and has an uneven surface, so take care.

Just beyond is this narrow path, turn right here

and a little way along you will find the Moravian Settlement, a weird time capsule of cobbled streets, founded by a religious sect.

Back on the canal, the path in this section is reasonably well surfaced, here it goes under Manchester Road.

Further along, near Lumb Lane, the canal widens, this section was realigned at this point.

Soon the canal passes under the M60, here we found a boat moored up in the shelter of the long bridge.

After passing under the railway, the canal has moorings on the far bank.

However, this is where the towpath dgrades badly, and the mud is quite bad here, and pretty dreadful after rain.

The morings end at the bridge under Hanover Street North.

Then after passing under the A6140 this disused railway bridge comes into view as the canal turns right.

This rather imposing structure takes the canal under Stockport Road,

and at this point the character of the canal changes, becoming a little less urban.

A little further along Ian disturbed this heron on the towpath. It settled on the far bank long enough for me to photograph it.

This pink, pedestrian bridge is at the end of Potteringer Street, and is the start of the final section of the canal.

This little bridge crosses over the entrance of Princess Dock.

Ian paused for a photo opportunity.

The next bridge goes under Margaret Street, next to the rather spectacular, 210ft high Junction Mills chimney.

After this bridge the path goes over this overspill into the River Tame

and then heads towards Portland Basin.

Here the warehouse was destroyed by fire in 1972, but has been rebuilt to house the Portland Basin Museum and, most importantly for those cycling or walking, the Bridge View Cafe.

A cobbled bridge takes the towpath over the entrance to the Peak Forest Canal.

If you want to get over to the cafe on the far bank

you will have to carry your pedal cycle up this set of steps and down more steps on the other side.

Beyond the foot bridge there are more moorings

and then the path is blocked, forcing you up this ramp.

This ramp emerges on Cavendish Street, opposite the Asda Supermarket which has been built across the start of the Huddersfield Canal.

This point effectively marks the end of the Ashton canal. From here the road system is pretty dreadful. The centre of Ashton has a dreadful one way system which is simply dreadful for cycling. From here it is possible to cross the town centre to reach the NCN 626 railpath to Oldham, but me and Ian ended up walking most of the way.

View Ashton Canal 4 - Fairfield to Ashton in a larger map