Sunday, 5 July 2015

Bridgewater Way 1 - Deansgate to Throstle Nest Bridge - not fit for purpose

This is the first in a series of posts revisiting the newly resurfaced Bridgewater Way. This first one was prompted by Manchester City Council's consultation which refers to this section of canal towpath when in the works here have more or less finished. This is in itself a repeat of a previous consultation by MCC for the same junction over a year ago.

Taking the position of the sculpture Life Cycle by George Wyllie as the start of this route you turn down the quiet part of Deansgate.

Now you have to look very carefully to your right to see the path under the block of flats. One of these parking spaces is planned to be removed to enable access.

From here is the end of the Manchester City Council section and the beginning of the path on Peel Holdings land. There has been some work on this section with textured pavement, though there is no benefit for cycles.

This section under the A56 becomes extremely slippery during the winter, making it very difficult even to walk on, let alone cycle. There has been nothing done to improve matters...

This next section is also slippery during the winter.

Another problem for people cycling will be how busy this area gets during fine summer evenings, particularly here outside the Wharf.

The wooden bridges have all been resurfaced with the addition of narrow anti-slip strips. Again this surface is very helpful for people walking, but will have little benefit when cycling.

As the path turns away from Castlefield Basin the mud and cobbles start. This section  of cobbles is very rough.

This gives way to paving slabs which have been repaired recently. They were in a poor state.

When the cobbles recommence it is clear that there have been some repairs, but they are still horribly rough for an ordinary bike.

These cobbles lead up to the first of the narrow bridges over the wharfs.

On the other side the cobbles are rough and uneven.

At the bridge under the ring road the cobbles give way to brick pavers, which cover the next narrow bridge.

This is certainly a better surface than the cobbles and paving stones, but still not as good as smooth tarmac.

Passing Timber Wharf on the left the next bridge is particularly steep on this side

and not much better on the other side.

At the following bridge under Hulme Hall Road the path narrows horribly.

The path under the bridge is fairly unpleasant.

After a short section of gritted tarmac the next wharf bridge is rough cobbles.

No attempt has been made to improve the surface and there was a lot of glass here.

The surface is uneven on the down side too.

As the path goes under the railway bridges it becomes loose gravel.

The next obstacle is the old bridge under Pomona Strand.

Here the path is dangerously narrow.

Barely wider than bicycle handlebars, and with little headroom it is difficult to get through with an unloaded bicycle. With panniers or a child seat it's pretty dangerous, and far too narrow for tricycles or handcycles.

After that things get a little easier

the old path has been widened a little.

As the path curves, Throstle Nest Bridge comes into view.

The path here is a horribly loose gravel, deep enough to make riding a bike feel unstable.

The loos gravel is gradually being thrown onto the stones forming the edge of the path and into the canal itself.

The feeling of vulnerability on this surface isn't helped by the brambles growing into the path.

As a cycle route this section of path is pretty narrow, and really only suitable for fat tyres.

The final insults are the barriers at the bridge

and another set of rough cobbles.

At least the canal boats get a smooth ride.

As part of Velocity 2025 this route is a waste of money. There are far better routes into the city from here, either crossing Pomona or taking the well surfaced and well lit tow path alongside the River Irwell both of which are easier and far more comfortable.



  1. It's my opinion that whoever suggested that this pathway was ever going to be wholly suitable for bicycles of any description, had clearly never visited the scene.
    The canal will never be narrowed to allow a wider path, the bridge arches will never be cut back for the same reason, and the surfaces will never be improved to a standard suitable for narrow-wheeled and/or suspensioned bicycles. Quite honestly, it's an insult to consider this a 'cycleway'.

  2. I have tried it several times and agree with all the observations on the above post. On my journey into Manchester, I much prefer to leave the Bridgewater Canal tow path at Throstle Nest Bridge, crossing over to the Salford side of the Irwell, and following the excellent Irwell tow path into town. The current development of flats beyond Regents Road bridge cannot go on forever, so the tow path should reopen soon (I hope! )

  3. Those brick pavers on the bridges near castlefield are lethal when wet! Going up one side my back wheel lost traction and a touch of the front brake going down sent the bike sideways and me nearly into the canal!