Use railways to boost your ride
HERE are some summer cycling ideas to make the most of the last lazy summer days with a local bike ride along Sustrans National Cycle Network. You don’t even need to take the car. Put your bike on the train* and try these easy trafficfree routes from local railway stations.
Irwell Sculpture Trail Start: Victoria Station, Salford End: Clifton Country Park or Prestwich Distance: 5 miles, one way SUSTRANS National Cycle Route 6 follows on or close to the river banks from central Salford as far as Bury and onward to the now famous chocolate destination of Ramsbottom.
Family trips will probably want to turn back closer to home. Route 6 has a spur off to Prestwich and Heaton Park via Buckley Lane, while further along the route, on the other side of the river, you can access family-friendly Clifton Country Park, which often has events for families organised by the Salford Ranger team.
Take your bikes on the train or park up near Victoria or Salford Central station. Access the path at Greengate which will take you across to the river bank and Route 6.
The nearby Biospheric Foundation featured in the Manchester International Festival for its pioneering work as an urban farm. The centre has occasional open days and tours but you’ll need to phone ahead. Follow the path round, over bridges and connecting small roads. The route is mainly well marked so you can sit back and enjoy the view. Look out for a string of artworks along the way, these are part of 70 sculptures in the Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail, which extends 33 miles through to Rossendale.
Manchester to Levenshulme Start: Manchester Piccadilly End: Levenshulme Station, Manchester Distance: 9 miles RIDE along Manchester’s peaceful old canal and railway networks from the vibrant city centre to the fashionable suburbs of the south side.
Walk or ride down the approach from Piccadilly station and turn right on to Dulcie Street, where you can access the Ashton Canal towpath after a short walk. Continue along the towpath (you will need to cross over Alan Turing Way), passing the Etihad Stadium and National Cycling Centre.
Turn right at the lock, following signs to Levenshulme. The path will take you through Openshaw and just before you reach Gorton reservoir and Debdale Park turn left on to the Sustrans Fallowfield Loop cycle path. Turn right and follow the blue signs to Levenshulme. You can catch the train back to Piccadilly from here.
For a longer ride the path also continues to Chorlton, where you can access the traffic-free TransPennine Trail towards Stockport or cycle on the roads to access the Bridgewater Way canal towpath at Stretford, which has a canal route back to Castlefield in Manchester.
Marple to Macclesfield Start: Rose Hill Marple train station End: Macclesfield railway station Distance: 11 miles THE leafy green lanes of the Middlewood Way are now a popular linear park which run close to the picturesque Macclesfield Canal, with its smoking barges and serene water birds.
Take the train from Manchester to Rose Hill, Marple and follow signs to the Middlewood Way from the station. You’ll wind through into Bollington, which has a great selection of pubs and cafés. Try the Windmill Gastro Pub which has a garden and maze, the Vale Inn for appreciators of real ale or the Café Waterside on the canal towpath.
The route is well-used by families and dog walkers and can be muddy in parts.
Continue on into bustling Macclesfield, where there is a regular train service back to Manchester.
For more information, routes or to order detailed maps look up www.sustrans.org.uk
*Bike spaces on local trains are available on a first come, first served basis.
Bike rides on traffic-free paths or quiet roads are a great way to get outdoors with your children, visit new places and enjoy a guilt-free coffee