Bridgewater Canal Manchester Reviews
Bridgewater Canal Jun 05, 2012
The Bridgewater Canal runs from Manchester to Runcorn. Long sections of the towpath are open to the public, including the full length of the canal from the basin in Deansgate out to Sale and Altrincham in the suburbs. Parts of it are very pleasant places to go for a walk. I’m hesitant to give it too many stars as other stretches of its length go right through the enormous industrial estates at Trafford, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the stretches out at Sale and Altrincham are lovely. There are some nice restaurants and bars at Sale that border onto the canal where, on the rare North Western sunny days, you can eat or drink in the sunshine. This is important, because nice beer gardens are scarce in central Manchester and on the few days it gets hot, the city gets sticky.
The path from Manchester to Altrincham runs parallel with the tram line, meaning that you can walk as far as you like and then catch a tram when you get tired. The path out at Altrincham and Sale mostly runs along a canal that’s been maintained as a pleasant water way, used by houseboats and tourist boats, and almost indistinguishable from a river bank in most places. There is plenty of wildlife this far out, including herons, and the canal skirts some parks for children.
Closer in, the canal moves into Trafford Park and has more scars from its industrial past. If you look closely, you can see the groves that tow ropes wore into the canals, and loading bays from old factories along the route. It also passes the massive Manchester United stadium, and you can see Salford Quays with the Imperial War Museum North and the new BBC studios if you detour a bit. Even the industrial sections are fascinating, though, with the canal providing an artery for wildlife. Last time I was there, there were even some orchids, the kind that mimic bumblebees.
The canal is gradually being transformed into a long distance path, the Bridgewater Way. There is a lot of work to be done and the paths only stretch along parts of the canal at the moment, but it should be nice when it’s finished. Unfortunately, there is a lot of litter on the parts of the path that are least loved, and some graffiti as you approach Old Trafford Stadium. This is a shame. That said, the canal doesn’t run through any really rough parts of town and you wouldn’t be unsafe there in the daytime (personally, I wouldn’t walk any of it after dark, but that’s because it’s unlit and slippery as much as anything else).
Access is certainly good enough by buggy, although it might be tricky for people with mobility problems in places. I wouldn’t recommend the stretch through Trafford to tourists, because it’s heavily industrial, but the more open and green stretch out at Sale and Altrincham is a lovely place for a walk and easily accessible by tram.
Part of the 2012 - The UK travel blog
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