A Wander along the Irwell valley

Yesterday, I resurrected an old fair weather tradition. I got on the bike and headed off in a (fairly) random direction until I was a bit lost. This was a lot easier back in the days when the only guidance I had was a copy of the A-to-Z, but it can still be done. As I was following, roughly, the Irwell upstream, coming back by a different route was as simple as crossing over and finding out what was on the other bank. You can scroll through the images above to follow my journey. The Rails to Nowhere image is available on prints from Deviantart and posters and postcards from Redbubble.

I actually started out in the shadow of the railway line, until I hit the Manchester and Bolton Canal. I’ve spotted it a few times on the train up to Cumbria and been meaning to ride along it for a while. This is one of the canals that is never going to be resurrected, as it’s been broken at various points along the route. A small part has become the Salford Lads’ fishing pond. Another bit is a breeding ground for truck tyres, it seems.

Further on, the canal has filled in and become overgrown. Bits have been burned. It was hard to tell whether this was a controlled fire to clear away brush, but there were some signs suggesting it was deliberate. Just beyond the burnt out section a small bridge (does it count as an aqueduct if it’s only a single, small span?) had been demolished. Another reason the canal’s never seeing a boat again.

Eventually, the trail I was on reached the Irwell. By this point, the canal was just some rough low walls that vaguely recalled having water between them once upon a time. I crossed over and carried on upstream until I reached Giant’s Seat Wood and then Ringley Bridge, where I crossed over and came back. My return route took me along the Irwell Sculpture Trail, but I only saw the one sculpture.

Finally, I was back in Salford, landing on tarmac in Kersal. If you’re interested in mildly gothic/half-timbered pubs, the Racecourse Hotel is up for sale. Should dark green faience be more your style, the Pendleton Co-operative Industrial Society building which once housed Houston’s Butchering is also on the market.


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