Author Topic: Not the No Car Cafe  (Read 2754 times)

Not the No Car Cafe
« on: 04 April, 2018, 01:13:15 pm »
So I’ve had this route in mind for a while and have been looking forward to it but it’s Easter Saturday and the day has dawned as you’d expect, cold and blustery, it takes me the best part of 3 hours faffage to get out the door. This has only been achieved due to assorted dire threats from my wife culminating in the sale of bikes. Once I’ve returned home a few times for wallet, phone and summat else a pootle through town and I arrive at the entrance to Irlam linear park, this is a new thing and is only 1km long but is the final piece that enables you to link Irlam locks to the Bridgewater canal virtually traffic free, the surface is hard-pack mud and branch drop but perfectly rideable.

The locks to Urmston is done on the road, although you can do it off road it's a long way round, and I pick up the trails again not far from the train station, I say pick up the trail, what I actually do is miss the turning and ride round in a circle through mud deep enough to start fouling pedals, but on the second third go the trail is back under wheel. The fact that I’ve stuffed up the nav while still on one of commuting routes amuses and worries me in equal measure, but work has clearly been done over the winter, the trail drainage seems much improved and it’s a pleasant ride to Northenden along the Mersey.

Here I have a choice, I can stick with NCN62, cross south and come up Ford Lane into Fletchers Moss, stay on the north bank and use the Mersey path – but I know this is very sandy and drivetrain unfriendly or try for a new path across the golf course. I opt for the latter but it's a no-go so I revert to type and charge round the roads in Didsbury to pick up the NCN again at Parrs Wood which keeps me off the road until the Pyramid roundabout in Stockport. In future I’ll stick with the NCN.

The infra over the roundabout is pretty good and I cross the bridge on the cycleway before entering a fully segregated lane on Chestergate. The route carries on through the main pedestrianised area and picks up a short two-way cycleway up Lancashire hill before heading off road again next to the Tame on a well surfaced track. This route through Stockport I was concerned about, but a combination of segregation, quiet road and pedestrian zone makes this far away the best route through.

On NCN still into Reddish Vale and a quick diversion to find a veloviewer tile and a bridge

before re-joining the NCN briefly, a right turn through Crookilly woods leads to the lowest cycle tunnel I’ve ever come across, chin on the stem job, under the M60 into an access road for a disused factory that’s now storage for an auctioneers.

A couple of hundred meters on road leads to the Alan Newton Way, this is essentially an unmade road that I could follow all the way to Chadkirk but would leave me with a steep stepped access to the Peak Forest canal, so instead I turn left up the steepish has-become-an-unmade road that is Clapgate and through the housing estate to the centre of Romiley where I pick up the canal.

The towpath is fairly narrow, which might be an issue in the summer, with a decent hardpack gravel surface but has that rollercoaster effect that leads to lots of puddles and I thoroughly enjoyed splashing my to Marple Aqueduct:

On from Marple Aqueduct up the locks which was pretty tough, 8 locks, so flat sections followed by 10-15% gravel ramps, into Marple and the main road descent to Marple Bridge. In future I’ll change this and come through Brabyns Park before the locks get going and then use Rollins Lane to eliminate the road.

I refuelled at Dutsons before making the climb to Shiloh. The food was good but my wallet went  :o at the price and my legs  :( at the climb. In future I’d change both of these things. Out of Marple Bridge I’ll use Low Lea Road which is unmade to Roman Lakes where the café is excellent, cheap and in a stunning location. They’ve just resurfaced most of the bridleway heading southeast from here (and lovely it is too) so with a nasty 25% broken road climb at the end you can come out at the scout camp and pick up the farm tracks to New Mills and then the Sett Valley Way.

Today I’ve picked up the Sett Valley at Thornsett and again it’s a decent surface but the headwind is now taking a toll, whatever happens I’ve got to get over Chinley Head but decide to abandon Peaslows and a visit to the No Car Café. A phone call to base camp and the chief agrees that it’s my own fault for faffing around so much in the morning. Up Chinley Head on the main road and the back road descent is spoilt by a MGIF land rover just before the crest who then can't do corners downhill  ::-)

A quick choccy milk in Chapel-en-le-Frith and it’s a B-road dash to New Mills and up Strines Road to check out a shortcut to Hawk Green, this involves a very steep muddy walk, shouldering the bike over a bridge before being faced with a long steep muddy grassy hill. Optimism has taken hold, so clip in while holding on to the barb wire fence and go for it, a few metres later I’m lay down in the hedge. I decide to walk it since the hedge disappears to be replaced with barb wire each side. Scratch this one off the list.

Back on the road to Hazel Grove I head south down Woodford Road. This is a recce to see if the new airport road (which looks to have a big wide cycleway in construction) has cut the off-road link from Bramhall to Poynton and enables you to get to Middlewood Way and Lyme Park via Princes Incline – it hasn’t so I’m round the back of the golf course on unmade road and onto the Fred Perry Way to south of the A555. I think this is a bit naughty since it’s only a footpath and pretty muddy but it’s far and away the nicest route in this part of the world.

Cutting through the Total Fitness car park eliminates some very nasty roads and into Handforth Dean, more path to Handforth where I pick up two no through roads linked by a sort section of track to take me to Styal and the bridleway around the airport.

Now I’m back into wearing grooves in the road round the back of Altrincham and through Dunham before home.

126 ish km in 8½ hours with 1500 metres of up and lots of pratting about. I’m happy-ish with that since it was probably 50km of off-road. Tyres were 30mm Schwalbe G-one speed and the only mud they couldn’t cope with was up to Hawk Green and I reckon you’d have needed BIG MTB knobblies for that, even the guards stayed clear.

The No Car Café still awaits.

GPX in two bits due to idiocy :

Linear Park
The rest:

Re: Not the No Car Cafe
« Reply #1 on: 05 April, 2018, 11:05:03 pm »
That's excellent, Si, thanks!  I wrote up a 200k canal ride for Arrivee, last time round and I commented on the steps up from Chadkirk.  I had a loaded pannier with me as I teetered up them.  I love the Peak Forest but it certainly is a switchback as you say.  We must get together and swap notes, soon!


Re: Not the No Car Cafe
« Reply #2 on: 06 April, 2018, 04:11:35 am »
Your article is on my reading list for the weekend,  I'm looking forward to seeing what's common.

We must get together and swap notes, soon!



  • "Shut Up Jens" - Legs.
Re: Not the No Car Cafe
« Reply #3 on: 06 April, 2018, 05:00:00 pm »
I used to live in Marple Bridge, near Charlesworth, and cycle to work in Stockport.

There was no real need to do any additional training. It's fkin hilly.  Whenever I visit I'm always surprised that I could cycle around there.  It was just normal.
Some people say I'm self-obsessed but that's enough about them.