This route is largely traffic free and runs for just over two miles, mostly along or alongside what is left of the disused trackbed of the Roe Green Loopline in Bolton. The Roe Green Loopline was opened in 1870 from Roe Green to Bolton, via Walkden Low Level. A key function of the lines was to support the surrounding collieries in conjunction with the Bridgewater canal, the largest of which was at Mosley Common, one of the biggest pits in the UK at its prime.
This post covers the section from the boundary between Salford and Bolton at the crossing of the M61 to Haywood Park in Bolton where the route simply stops. It is a continuation of a previous post Roe Green Loopline 2, Walkden to the M61.
However, after crossing the M61 the route first has to turn east to get back to the route of the Roe Green Loopline along the route of another mineral line to the south of the housing estate in Highfeld. This line linked Brackley Colliery to the west and Ashton's Field Colliery to the east. As you cycle north along Anchor Lane after crossing the motorway the path is on your right, just before the houses start.
Initially path is very narrow, muddy and strewn with rubbish
and there is this dreadful set of barriers to add to the grim nature of the area.
However, within a few yards, the path improves
and after about 300yds turn sharp left, and climb up to rejoin the Roe Green Loopline.
The mineral line went under the Roe Green Loopline at this point and turned gradually south, with a short branch line turning off, just past this point into the centre of Farnworth.
The top of the embankment is intact here and the path well surfaced.
However, the path becomes the pavement on the left of Medow Walk, once a curving siding,
and runs straight into this set of steps where the bridge under Highfield Road has been filled in. You can tell this is supposed to be the cycle route, because of the grove on the left for you to wheel your bike up... The easier answer is to turn left along Meadow Walk and right onto Highfield Road
On Highfield Road this is the left hand entrance to the next part of the path, and the easiest to negotiate.
The path drops down into the cutting again
Before climbing the left side of the cutting at the site of Plodder Lane railway station.
Across Plodder Lane the cutting has been filled in and at this point the markings for NCN55 disappear on the TfGM map.
However, a fairly broad path continues to follow the route of the railway down to Colchester Drive.
Past Colchester Drive it narrows somewhat, but is still navigable on a bike
However, the path starts to twist and turn to the left of the old railway, which by this point is covered in houses.
After several sharp bends the path straightens out again
and drops down with the Royal Bolton hospital to the left and the old railway, now on an embankment to the right. At this barrier the route returns to the TfGM map, which is complete nonsense.
At the end of this section the path crosses Minerva Road and goes down this track to the left of the railway embankment
and past the farm on the left.
The path continues past the farm
and then dips steeply down to Will Hill Brook where the TfGM map stops making the cycle route.
Here the embankment rises steeply on the right
As the path climbs back up to the end of Freshfield Avenue, on the left, it returns to the trackbed and the TfGM map marks this as a cycle route shortly after
Now the path changes character, becoming a wide tarmaced railway path passing under Lever Edge Lane.
The path even has lighting,
but the surface is uneven in places and a bit wet towards Settle Street.
Past Settle Street, the path changes again, and here a school has been built on the trackbed and the location of sidings. Here the path takes the less obvious route to the left of the school
and runs along the left side of the old cutting.
after the school the cutting has been filled in as it reaches Lever Street.
At the entrance to Heywood Park the railway line went underground,
possibly as a cut and cover tunnel under the path, though I've not been able to find any information on it.
At Bridgeman Street the cycle route just stops. There is nothing more marked on the TfGM map and nothing on the road. The path of the railway is marked here by the trees beyond the car park which were in front of the old school, which is in the process of being demolished. At this point the line was joined by the LMSR from the west.
From Shaw Street you can still see the line of trees in the cutting, but beyond Fletcher Street the railway and the site of the station has been obliterated by Sainsburies Supermarket and other retail developments. From here on the road network is dreadful, reflecting the car-dominated retail developments.
View Roe Green Loopline 3, M61 to Bolton in a larger map