You may be more familiar with the Bridgewater Canal for all of its day-drinking and after dark offerings. After all, can you think of a better way to spend a sunny day in Manchester than sipping on an Espresso Martini at Duke’s 92? We certainly can’t.
But as the weather and lockdown restrictions have put a sure stop to our daytime merriment for the time being – did you know the Bridgewater Way has a whole host of alcohol-free delights to lap up on your daily exercise?
Welcoming both part-time cyclists and lockdown hikers, the resurfaced canal towpaths stretch from Manchester all the way to Runcorn, offering both pedestrians and riders a traffic-free route for an impressive 65km.
Not quite up for an 80-mile round trip? Don’t worry, we’ve rounded up some of the trail’s highlights sure to make your next lockdown route all the less, well, lockdown.
Following the trail from the delights of the city centre to Altrincham offers a whole host of lockdown-approved places to explore. Along the route, you’ll come across National Trust’s Dunham Massey, which currently remains open for local visitors who’ve booked in advance.
Not local to area? The popular grounds make for a great place to add to your post-lockdown list.
Sale – Walton Perk, Walton Park and Sale Water Park
Are you one of those walkers who can’t take a single stride without a hot drink in tow? We don’t blame you. If you’re a caffeine fanatic, you’re in for a treat on this route. As you approach Sale on the canal, you’ll find Walton Perk – a Friends-inspired narrowboat selling hot and cold drinks, pastries and cakes — with a whole host of vegan offerings too.
They remain open as a “grab and go” business, and they’re still serving up bacon butties to keep you fuelled throughout your walk.
A little further down the route you’ll find Sale Water Park – a mix of the urban, woodland, meadows, an impressive lake adjacent to the River Mersey, and – of course – the Bridgewater Canal. It really does offer something for all, with a Boathouse Restaurant overlooking the water making for a great pit stop.
As you approach the picturesque village of Worsley, the walk takes an interesting turn. A stroll along the banks of the canal is a journey into the past and a glimpse into the future, making for a peaceful urban walk steeped in industrial heritage. Every stretch of the waterway has a story to tell us about human ingenuity, endurance and events that shaped both Manchester and the world.
The canal here was a lifeline for the Bridgewater works yard – a space now known as Worsley Green. Looking at the beautiful surrounds of Worsley today, it’s hard to imagine that its tranquil canal-side setting and half-timber buildings was once the birthplace of the transport revolution in the 18th century.
The Bridgewater Way had a huge part to play in that – the canal itself was famous as the location for the first trials of boats powered by steam, the forerunners of the mighty paddle steamers that still navigate the Mississippi today. Pretty impressive.
How does a walk close to the M60 sound? Not quite the idyllic stroll you had in mind? Stop off at Chorlton Waterpark on your travels, and we’re sure you’ll soon change your mind.
Manchester’s first designated local nature reserve is one of the most popular spots in the Mersey Valley – still offering ample room to distance from others on your daily walk. Set around a central lake with meandering paths that lead to woodlands and meadows, it’s an idyllic spot to recharge away from the hustle and bustle – or less so, these days.
It’s also a great base to connect with a wide range of traffic-free routes – including the Fallowfield Loop, Trans Pennine Trail, and back to the Bridgewater Way.
Lymm – Evergreen Café
Always fancied having lunch on a floating vegetarian and vegan cage? Add EverGreen Café in Lymm to your post-lockdown wish list. Serving up everyone’s favourite plant-based versions of classic comfort food and cakes, this pitstop on the Bridgewater Way would definitely make your post-lockdown trek worthwhile.
For those local to area, they remain open for take-away services, and are serving an array of delicious-looking soups to add a little warmth to your winter.