A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

NCN Route 66 – The Rochdale Canal

Posted by Alan on November 9, 2012

Due to my procrastination (well work etc probably is more important…) this is a post that has been sat in drafts for such a long time.  The Rochdale Canal gave me one of my first ever cycling memories, cycling the 12 or so miles downhill from Rochdale to Castlefield. This summer I finally made it back to see how what it’s like following the restoration.

Failsworth Corner

I remember when this was a Co-op supermarket!

 The biggest transformation has been at Failworth. Sadly I didn’t take a camera on that adolescent trip so you will have to build the picture in your head: the scene above was once a Co-Operative supermarket. Just behind the viewpoint of the camera is an over bridge, where the canal ended and the culvert started. Somewhere beneath the supermarket shelves the canal turned a right angle in a pipe.

Failsworth - looking towards Manchester

Around the corner

Around the corner, the canal carried on in a pipe with the cut concreted in, where there had been a lock, there was a series of concrete steps in its place – the cut here traversing through several housing estates I guess it has been done for ‘child safety’. I definitely remember cycling down the centreline of the cut, though being the safe and serious sort I probably returned to the towpath for the ‘locks’!

Route 66 signs

I still don’t get why Sustrans don’t copy road sign design and show the nearest Big and Small places…

Those housing estates are still there, unsurprisingly I didn’t stop to take photos! Once in Ancoats, the canal is lined by former mills – now trendy apartments.


ex-Mill, Ancoats

Much of the route is now properly paved, which makes a great difference when cycling – it’s an easy and direct route to take.

I wonder whether in time it will see the problems of the Regents Canal in London where the cyclists and pedestrians vie for the limited space on offer.

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