Well there HAD been a plan, but just did the curry walk instead.
My original idea had been to nip up Alderley Edge with the tent last night so as to be ready for sunrise at 4.40am. The sandstone cliffs of Alderley Edge are quite magical – legend has it that King Arthur and his knights sleep in a cave beneath the cliffs, ready to leap to the defence of England in time of peril.
The only peril last night was the rain. So I stayed put at home.
But that was only the first half of The Plan. The next bit of the plan was to meet up with the long-suffering Rick again, and Jon, sometime lightweight TGO Challenger. Not that Jon does his Challenges in a wimpish manner, oh no. Jon goes lightweight – cuben fibre rucksack, tarp, uber-lightweight cooking gear…you get the picture.
We met at Timperley Metrolink Station at 10am, then followed the steps down to the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal. Up until fairly recently the towpath was a muddy mess, but investment by Sustrans has transformed the path northwards into a well surfaced track, suitable for walkers, runners and cyclists. Unfortunately the southbound towpath from Timperley hasn’t had the benefit of this treatment and is still a mess, particularly in wet weather.
The morning was overcast but dry as we set off north. Our fingers and other bits were firmly crossed that the rain would stay away. We didn’t do too badly considering the poor weather forecast but within half an hour we felt the first drops of the wet stuff.
Some of the wild-life
Canal boat graveyard in Stretford
Marina in Stretford
Although I’ve walked this route a number of times, I always find it interesting. Seeing Manchester from it’s backdoor is a privilege that is available to most, yet few seem to take advantage of it. Many of the old mills have been converted into swish flats or offices. Others, derelict, are still awaiting conversion – or demolition.
These derelict areas surprise with all manner of plants growing wild:
Just across the way from Manchester United’s Old Trafford:
What started as light rain had now turned into big lumps of water falling from the sky and overtrousers were pulled on – Goretex Paclite is as useful on an urban walk as it is in the hills. Rick and I stayed dry, Jon wasn’t so lucky – he hadn’t brought his wetlegs with him.
As we got closer to Manchester City Centre the views opened out – so much of industrial Manchester has been flattened.
One of the many new buildings on Salford Quays, built on the old Salford Docks. This is a block of fashionable and very popular flats overlooking the now clean Manchester Ship Canal. My No2 son lives in one of them. He’s got more money that his Dad….who doesn’t do fashionable!
Closing in on Manchester we passed through Castlefield, once a bit of a dirty hole, but it has been cleaned up nicely. It’s a shame that the cloud and rain doesn’t show the area off to it’s best :
Des-res for the wild-life
Leaving the canal towpath, and now following Rick – because I’m clueless in the city centre, we head through the back streets towards Shude Hill. This area of Manchester was once home to sweatshops producing everything from ladies knickers to, er, other stuff. There are still lots of Asian-owned clothing wholesalers in the area.
Our target for today’s walk was ‘This and That’, a wonderful curry house situated in Soap Street, a grotty back alley. It’s more of a canteen than a restaurant, and I gather it used to provide meals for the Asian employees of the various factories that were once so prolific in the area. Today it’s very popular with workers wanting a decent lunch for not a lot of money.
Rick and Jon getting stuck in
The food served here is excellent. Although the place doesn’t look at all inviting, the Food Standards Agency has awarded it 4 stars out of a maximum of 5. After eating our fill it was time to head for the tram to take us home…well you didn’t think we were going to walk back as well did you??
We called by Vinyl Exchange – a record shop I usually avoid not because I don’t like it, but because I find it almost impossible leave the place without buying at least one CD. Today I made up for my avoidance of recent years – buying 6 CDs, admittedly for only £27. And they are by artists I really like.
Before I had chance to spend any more money we headed straight for Piccadilly, our tram, and home.
A grand day out Gromit!
Today’s vital statistics:
9.5 miles with 180’ of up.