Sunday 13 August 2006

Cheshire Ring - Moore to Castlefield Manchester

Cheshire Ring - Moore to Castlefield Manchester
13th August 2006

23 Miles
0 Locks
8 Hours

The Bridgewater slides along the southern bank of the Manchester Ship Canal, which can be glimpsed form time to time from the canal's lofty 83ft contour. The canal is popular with moorers and boats line the route for mile after mile, slowing progress but adding interest to this lockless waterway.

Shortly after passing under the M6's notorious Thelwell Viaduct (we were travelling faster than the traffic) we passed through Lymm, a pretty town which catered well for a provisioning trip. Then it was on through open country for about four miles before reaching Sale, the M60 and onto Waters Meeting, the arm (was the old main line) leading to the Barton Swing Aqueduct. The section from Sale gets progressively inner city, hemmed in with run down factories and wasteland. I have a liking for this sort of post industrial waterway, all lonely and seemingly unloved.

As we had reached Manchester in good time I convinced Belle that you really can't pass the Barton Swing Aqueduct by on account of it being on the seven wonders of the Waterways (an argument I have used on more than seven occasions!). The run out past the Trafford Centre was quiet in the extreme, with only a handful of fisherman to keep us company. The aqueduct offered fine views up and down the deserted MSC, and we turned in the Worsley Cruising Club's winding hole, returning for a second viewing of this extraordinary structure. With evening approaching we scurried back to the main Bridgewater Canal taking a left past Manchester United'sTrafford Park and the famous Throstle Bridge. We are expert canal football finders and it grieved us sorely that there was a prime MUFC ball in the scrub next to the stadium. Sadly, it was tantalisingly out of reach and had to be left behind.

After good views of Salford Quays we passed Pomona Lock, entry point to the Docks and the Irwell. Another backwater which will have to wait for another year. We finally approached Castlefield Junction in the gathering gloom and ate fish and chips to the accompanyment of skateboarders on the steps opposite. The whole area seemed like one big set from Cold Feet. After we had eaten Jeff and the Captn extracted their rods and did a spot of fishing under the railway viaduct arches. The memorable feature of this evening was Jeff catching his very first fish - it was only a tiddler but I wish I had a camera with me to capture the moment.

Castlefield offers a surprisingly secure and peaceful spot for an overnight stay.

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