Sunday, 25 January 2015

Ashton Canal - Stockport Branch part 1

This post covers the cycle path on the section of the infilled Stockport Branch of the Ashton Canal from Clayton Junction on the main branch of the Ashton Canal to the point where it passes under the Fallowfield Loop. This section is part of NCN route 60 and the Manchester Cycleway.

This section of path links up with Ashton Canal 2 - Ancoats to Clayton and Ashton Canal 3 - Clayton to Fairfield.

This branch of the Ashton Canal was apparently known locally as Lanky Cut. The total length of the branch was four miles and it had no locks, so the route is completely level. The canal has been infilled and this produces some changes in level, particularly at bridges.

Much of this part of the canal path was resurfaced at the end of 2013.

Cycling east along the Ashton Canal the path branches off just before the bridge that takes the towpath over the junction. If you go up onto the bridge you get to look down on the entire length of the canal that contains water.

The path starts off as narrow tarmac and after the junction it is lined by medium size trees on both sides.

It is not long before the first tank traps appear. These concrete pyramids occur in several places along the route. This first set is at the junction with Claytonbrook Road and are combined with a metal barrier beyond. These are a major obstruction to anyone on a trike or with a cycle trailer and give the path the feeling of an old defensive line from WW2.

The path now runs between modern housing estates with walls and fencing most of the time on both sides.

The next junction is with Sexa Street.

Here the access path to Sexa Street is filled in with more tank traps.

A little further along the path is obstructed by a set of large rocks. Here the gaps are reasonably wide and the recent tarmac surface is an improvement.

At this point there is an area of green space connecting through to the junction between Louisa Street and Orrell Street.

At the point where the path reaches Ashton Old Road it dips down to give enough headroom.

Here you have to watch out for the next set of tank traps in the path, just the other side of the bridge.

The surface of the path gets a bit wider here, reflecting the fact that the canal was wider at this point.

The next bridge takes the path under Ogden Lane.

South of Ogden Lane was a wide basin with the site of High Bank Mill on the left and the basin and canal depot on the right.

Map from Gorton Locomotive works website

The one remaining sign of the canal depot is the remains of the bridge that took the towpath over the basin entrance.

This section was once a very busy place, but is is now quite quiet.

Here the canal crosses the railway at Gorton Station.

To the right of here was the site of a series of reservoirs, but there is no sign of them now.

On the aqueduct over the railway line there is a clearly delineated towpath with original cobbled surface and the narrow canal basin.

South of the aqueduct the land opens up to the right with the recreation ground, whilst the housing on the left is Victorian, probably contemporary with the canal.

The location of the short canal branch to the east has been lost under modern housing at this point. Here there are some silly barriers and bollards push cycles into the mud.

Now the path crosses Hollybush Street on the level, this road was built after the canal fell out of use.

Next the path goes under Highmead Street. Here there is a dreadful set of metal barriers right underneath the bridge.

Shortly after the bridge the tarmac surface gives way to paving stones and the surface narrows. The path then deviates to the right at Alston Road where the bridge has been infilled.

South of Alston Road the path gives way to an access road with uncomfortable speed bumps that go all the way across.

The path then reaches the route of the Fallowfield Loop. Here you can go up the steep slope to the left to reach the railway path. The route of the canal continues under the railway route.

Continued in part 2

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