A rough stuff ride in search of Charlie (and a suitable breakfast spot!)
After a shaky 24 hrs weather wise, which necessitated a few tweaks to the original plan (MTB’s swapped for mudguarded machines) Myself, Steve & Graham gathered at the meeting spot in good spirits. All confident that the forecast would hold true and deliver the promised clear morning after a non too promising start.
We were not disappointed…
The plan for today?
The Bridgewater Canal connects Runcorn, Manchester and Leigh. It was commissioned by Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, to transport coal from his mines in Worsley to Manchester. It was opened in 1761 from Worsley to Manchester, and later extended from Manchester to Runcorn, and then from Worsley to Leigh.
The canal is always wonderful and at this time of year, even the more industrial stretches can be full of charm. As the canal passes through Worsley, iron oxide from the mines has stained the water bright orange, add to that the lovely colours of Autumn and it’s hard to beat.
The added bonus of our chosen route this morning was being able to leave the canal at Astley Green and very easily join Higher Green lane leading across Chat Moss…
Chat Moss is a large area of peat bog that makes up 30 per cent of the City of Salford. It is thought to be about 7,000 years old, but peat development seems to have begun there with the ending of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. A great deal of reclamation work has been carried out, particularly during the 19th century, but a large-scale network of drainage channels is still required to keep the land from reverting to bog. In 1958 workers extracting peat discovered the severed head of what is believed to be a Romano-British Celt, possibly a sacrificial victim, in the eastern part of the bog near Worsley.
I hadn’t been in this neck of the woods for a long time (I don’t think Steve had either?) and it was also Graham’s first time this far up the canal and across the Moss, so it made for a refreshing change from our usual Sunday outings.
The idea for today’s ride popped into my head whilst researching some of Charlie Chadwick’s routes one evening last week. He didn’t give any precise route details in his diaries, but going off the place names and landmark references he makes it is relatively easy, and enjoyable, to piece together his potential comings & goings. An area that is referred to on numerous occasions is Chat Moss, so it was wonderful today to think/say with absolute confidence that we were riding in Charlie’s tyre tracks. Fabulous!
After a fair bit of exploring and some golden photo opportunities, by this time the skies were clear blue and we were treated to blinding sunshine, we were off the Moss in Irlam. At this point Charlie would almost certainly have turned right, making his way to Warburton. Crossing Warburton bridge across the Manchester Ship Canal to make his way into his (and our) much loved Cheshire lanes.
We opted to turn left…
A quick spin on the main road would bring us to Irlam Locks, allowing us to cross the Ship Canal and head in a home-ish direction. All the while scanning for a suitable place to ‘drum up’ and enjoy the sausage butties that Steve had lovingly prepared for us all the night before.
The roads were quiet, the sun was out, and we were in no rush. A bit of on the bike route discussion led us nicely through Urmston where we peeled off the main road, past the stables and joined up with old faithful, the Trans Pennine Trail (NCN 62)
Even though one of the main parts of the plan today was to utilise the stoves for a brew and to tuck into those sausage butties, we bizarrely ended up enjoying that part of the ride on a canal side bench not half a mile away from where we began! It was however, no less enjoyable because of it. As an added bonus it was quite funny to watch people passing us by, jealously eyeing up our (well deserved) feast.
What a wonderful morning 🙂
At this point it was time for me to head home. Steve and Graham decided to ride on for some more fun in the sun, and the puddles!
Pictures – Steve Makin