Over the last year, we think we can speak for most of us when we say we’ve been exercising outside a lot more than usual. Whether it was going for a lunchtime walk, run, or bike ride, our outdoor options were pretty limited in terms of keeping healthy.
Now that normal life is resuming (can we get a hallelujah!), it would be easy to shove the running trainers and bike back into storage and forget about them, however, we think one of the best ways to appreciate our fantastic city is to explore it on two wheels. Think about it, what’s not to like? Soaking up some glorious weather whilst staying healthy, being able to stop for a picnic comprising of your favourite snacks and discovering areas you might not have ever seen before. A bike ride has it all, which is why we thought, what better way to celebrate World Bicycle Day than to share our three favourite bike routes with you all.
As part of Greater Manchester’s 10-year plan to create a thousand miles of bike and walking lanes in the city, this ‘cycleway’ recently opened and features a series of resurfaced canal towpaths that travel from Manchester city centre out to Altrincham, Castlefield, and the Trafford Centre. The trail has loads of access points so it’s a really easy route to use and soak up some of Manchester’s proud history, by cycling alongside England’s first canal that was constructed without an existing watercourse. This is a great route for riders not so confident at road cycling as there is no traffic to worry about and it’s also an all-weather surface; so whatever the great British weather throws at you this is one you can enjoy, with solar lights that can guide you through the darker sections of the route. Transport for Greater Manchester has a great map for this one, found here.
This loop is 8 miles in total and is thought to be the longest urban cycleway in Britain, so it’s great if time isn’t on your side, as it can be ridden in under an hour. Manchester has always shouted about its sporting prowess, with regards to its world-famous teams, sports personalities that hail from the City and phenomenal venues too, so it makes absolute sense that this route starts and finishes at the National Cycling Centre, the home of Team GB. Another good option for beginners, this route is flat and well surfaced as it is an old unused line on the Manchester Central Station Railway. You’ll pass several parks too, so it’s perfect for meeting friends for a bite to eat. See more on this specific route here.
Piccadilly Basin to Buxton
Yep, you read that right, you can cycle from Manchester city centre to Derbyshire without sharing the road with a single motorist. This is a tough one, so it’s not for those of us that aren’t in the gym on the regular. Three-quarters of this route are cycle paths with the last section making use of the wide A-roads that cut through the Goyt Valley. Kick your ride off from Piccadilly Basin, and from there you’ll head east following the Ashton Canal Tow Path past old mills, the Etihad, and National Cycling Centre. By the time you reach the Tamer Aqueduct, you should see the countryside creep in and be bombarded with photo opportunities aplenty. Marple Aqueduct is a beautiful backdrop to this route, with horse chestnut trees that arch over the trail, and Whaley Bridge and Pavilions Gardens are all just beautiful sites to dismount and soak up. The hardest part of this route hits you at the end, as the final 5 miles are quite steep, but rest assured, there are plenty of great pubs to stop off at and catch your breath. See more details on the route here.
So, will you be grabbing your helmet and heading out this weekend? We’d love to see photos from your adventures around the city, and please do share any further recommendations of routes to check out via our social channels!