The pandemic may have brought on many things, but one of the most positive outcomes has surely been the opportunity to take up new hobbies. And if cycling is your latest flavour, we’ve rounded up the top Manchester cycling routes that are perfect for soaking up the sights on a sunny day.
1. Ashton Canal
The Ashton Canal route is a 6-mile option, running from Manchester city centre through to Ancoats, Bradford-with-Beswick, Clayton, Openshaw, Droylsden, Fairfield and Audenshaw, before ending at Ashton-under-Lyne where the canal joins with the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The waterside route takes you through the bustling community of Ancoats, which is home to a beautiful Marina, before passing the Etihad Stadium and a number of small communities in North Manchester. For those looking to cast their sights a bit wider, you can extend your route down the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which will lead you to see two of Britain’s true beauty spots, the Peak District and the Pennine Hills.
2. Bridgewater Way
Traffic-free with 11 miles of Manchester and Trafford to take in, the Bridgewater Way cycle route runs from Deansgate/Castlefield, to Old Trafford and Exchange Quay, before heading past Stretford and Sale and finishing in the Altrincham area. There’s also the option to divert from Exchange Quay towards Event City and the Trafford Centre, or even off-course down the Manchester Ship Canal towards MediaCityUK. Exchange Quay and MediaCityUK are particularly pretty when the sun is blazing down on them, and there are plenty of lovely places to check out in Altrincham, too.
3. Pennine Bridleway
The Pennine Bridleway is an incredibly long National Trail, featuring 205 miles of beautiful countryside that starts in Derbyshire and ends in Cumbria. The full route can take days to complete on a bike, however, you can create your own route from Greenfield, and cycle up as far as you wish past Saddleworth Moor, Todmorden, Trawden and even as far as Settle. The route provides some gorgeous views of the Pennines across ancient tracks that were originally designed for packhorses. The route is fairly difficult, with varying surfaces and hills, and some parts of the trail are situated in remote locations such as the Yorkshire Dales.
4. Stalybridge Country Park
A large country park with some beautiful sights to spot, the Stalybridge Country Park cycling route is just a short drive from central Manchester and has a number of pretty reservoirs to see as you ride around its perimeter. It’s best enjoyed with a bit of sunshine, with the route consisting of 11 miles in total. Take in the views of the Swineshaw reservoirs and breathe in the fresh air as you switch up your usual views for a bit of moorland. In addition to being able to join the Pennine Bridleway from the route, you can also check out the gorgeous Tameside Walk, which cyclists are also welcome to use.
5. Highfield Country Park
A loop of the 70-acre Highfield Country Park near Gorton, this one’s a nice and easy ride for both beginners and those with limited time to exercise. Doubling up as a nature reserve and a cycle/walk route, the park offers a peaceful route that’s perfect for those living in South Manchester, with a number of animal and plant species to spot during your visit. It’s easy to get to from Chorlton, Whalley Range, Fallowfield, and of course, Gorton.
6. Prestwich Forest Park
One of the best Manchester cycling routes, take a peaceful bike ride out by the River Irwell with 500 acres of gorgeous woodland to uncover. Prestwich Forest Park offers a number of parks to explore during your visit, including Philips Park, Drinkwater Park, Waterdale and Prestwich Clough. Philips Park is home to a great mountain bike trail, a woodland trail that consists of two conjoining loops to try. The loops are fairly short in distance, however, for those looking for a bit more action, it links to an additional 3km route at the Waterdale park.