Ashton-under-Lyne does not present its best face to you if you arrive by tram or bus. The new bus terminal is more attractive than the one it replaced, and it does a good job of hiding the back side of the shopping centre, but you’ve still found your way there past soulless big-box stores and venues. The more interesting part of town is on the other side of the Escher inspired maze of the shopping centre.
The market square and market hall lead you on to a small grid of streets, well stocked with interesting finds.
Of course, when I say interesting, I mean to me- so it’s all old facades, abandoned stuff, and a surprising number of dead nightclubs.
The Hudson Bay is even more exclusive now it’s shut down and no-one at all can get in.
Club Denial can’t accept that it’s now a small supermarket.
The Hippodrome survived a century, but something between 2004 and now has led to its closure.
I’m not sure what Slotworld was before it was Slotworld, but it’s not Slotworld any more, either.
I went into town last Sunday to get pictures of the Chinese New Year celebrations. None of the pictures I took were all that good. However, wandering back to Piccadilly Gardens, I looked up and spotted the disco ball atop 21 Piccadilly. Then I looked all around and decided to take a wander and get pictures of the skyline around the Gardens.
I wonder if that water tower is still in use?
Long, long ago, when I was living in Surrey but occasionally visiting the Manchester office, I think the Gardens Hotel was one of the places I got to stay.
That structure on the roof with the open door intrigues me. The building on the right houses a branch of NatWest. Just saying.
For several years I’ve been saying I wanted to cycle the length of the Manchester Ship Canal, starting or ending in Port Sunlight. This year I need to stop saying it and actually do it. On Saturday I did a test ride along a bit of the canal.
For the ride proper I intend to catch a train to or from Port Sunlight so that I’m only riding one way. For Saturday’s partial ride there was to be no train intervention. I set myself a basic target- reaching a landmark I had identified on Google Maps or doing 15 miles from home base- at which point I would turn around and come back.
I had to ride out to the Trafford Centre then the Barton road bridge, where I would join the canal. One of the wonders of Google Maps is the satellite view, which let me get an idea of the lay of the land along the canal’s banks. This led me to the North shore being a better bet for access to land close to the water. I’m easily distracted, though, and stopped off in Stretford to get a couple of photos.
Love that Deco frontage. I’ve taken a few photos over the years of the curved frontage of the bingo hall just around the corner, but only just noticed this. An architectural wander of Stretford is in order, I think.
I resisted photo ops the rest of the way to Barton, crossed the bridge, headed down side roads and gingerly made my way past a gaggle of geese and swans (swans are huge, and I still have a little bit of fear of them left over from the time one attacked me when I was about seven) and found myself on Langland Drive.
The GPS on my phone went a little mad on Langland Drive and put me in a lot of places other than where I actually was. There’s a lot of work going on on the wasteland west of the motorway, but no indication yet of what’s going to be there. After a while I reached a lock complex, which was closed to the public. The road curved away from the canal so I started following paths through the undergrowth and trees. This was almost too much for my tourer, a cyclocross bike might have been better suited, a mountain bike would have had no problems but would also have been overkill. Just beyond the locks, on the other side of the canal, was a loading dock of some sort.
A little further on was a spur off the canal, with a scrap yard and this precarious piece of parking on one side of it.
There are still reminders of whatever used to be here, in amongst the trees.
I could have joined the road soon after this, but I stubbornly stuck to the path through the trees until I reached Irlam Locks.
Pride comes before a flat, and my front tyre punctured a little way on from the locks. I’m surprised that I only picked up the one thorn considering the number of brambles draped across the path. For some reason, my phone’s GPS could work out where I was to within 7 metres whilst I fixed the tyre. To make things worse, the puncture had happened within sight of my target.
(Not the locomotive- satellite view’s not that good- the bridge.)
My landmark, the first option for turning back, was thirteen and a half miles into my ride. I didn’t feel like retracing my route, so I carried on, knowing there’s a road bridge over the canal a couple of miles further on. I headed back toward the Trafford Centre on the South side of the canal where, as I’d thought, it was harder to get close to the water’s edge. However, I did find this redundant level crossing on the road to Flixton.
The brief period when I could get close to the water did give me a different view of the mysterious dock from earlier and the locks just upstream from it.
Then it was on to the Trafford Centre for doughnuts (to undo all the good that 30 miles of cycling had done) and a poor coffee before finishing the trip.
Next time I think I shall carry on along the canal to the end. I doubt I can make it all the way along the northern shore, and if I do I may then have to backtrack several miles until I can get across to the side with railway stations on it. I think I’ll wait until it’s a lot warmer.
Back Piccadilly is a short, narrow, slightly threatening looking street connecting some of the streets heading east from Piccadilly Gardens. Apart from using it as a shortcut you don’t often think about it.
I only popped into Back Piccadilly to take pictures of Mother Macs.
It’s one of those pubs you never go in, and don’t know anyone who ever has. Despite being so central it might as well be in another town. (Now that I’ve said that I’m going to have to go in aren’t I?)
Across from Mother Macs is Ed’s Cafe Bar. I’ve never been in there either, and I’m not sure whether it’s still open.
Moving along, there are some impressive rear doors to some of the shops on Piccadilly. Though they don’t look like they’re used much nowadays.
Behind one of these doors and down in a basement there used to be a comic shop (we’re talking 15 to 20 years ago mind). I sold my whole comics collection to the guy who ran it. We all make mistakes.
I wasn’t expecting much of interest down the last stretch of Back Piccadilly, which has fairly recent buildings on one side and Sacha’s hotel on the other. Then I looked at the detailing on Sacha’s.
This wander wasn’t as thorough as it could have been- rain stopped play. So just some stuff on or near Wilmslow Road through Didsbury village. I’ll be getting on my bike and doing more wide ranging wanders later in the year.
This horse themed letter box looks like it’s been sealed up.
“B Oldfield [something] agent & dealer”
I don’t normally include new buildings in my wanders, but I liked the spike which runs down from the peak of the roof through the balconies.
I did a bit of post processing and masking with this one to bring out the colours of the stained glass.
Number 2 Passage.
This is above one of the windows of the Didsbury Police station. I had to stand on the wall in front of their notice board to get a better angle. I shouldn’t tempt fate, but it seems that even then I wasn’t suspicious enough looking to be stopped by cops for photographing.
There were another two of these decorative thingies (I’m going to have to start learning the proper architectural names for stuff) on this house. They looked like they’d both been restored, but they were obscured by scaffolding so I couldn’t get pictures.
I noticed a few of these decorative roof toppers- again, I’ll have to learn the proper name- on houses along Barlow Moor Road.
Not much of a wander, compared to my others. I took pictures of a few interesting buildings and details I spotted on the way between the railway station and the model show the other week. They’re on Flickr now.