Left Ramsbottom on what promised to be a warm sunny day, no shops were open yet. Soon picked up better waymarking which persisted all day – different local authorities. Leaving the river for fields I found the path weaving between Rose Bay Willow Herb and Himalayan Balsam, the latter had not reached the popping stage which will be dramatic here.
A lovely long stretch of cobbled path took me to an old cotton mill at Brooksbottoms, no doubt this is the way the workers tramped to and from their employment. Then I walked close to the East Lancs railway and passed through Summerseat station….….before dropping down to the river and a climb into fields with views back to the prominent Peel Tower above Ramsbottom.
The stones came from an old bridge in Bury and the picnic table could be a ‘trap’ for tourists. Slipped out of Bury on Cycleway 6, an abandoned railway, past the Elton sailing reservoir and then along the overgrown and defunct Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal. All this was unexpected rural walking. Got chatting to an elderly man taking his daily walk home along the canal, his wife thinks he catches the bus, he was 92 after all.The canal took me right through Radcliffe where a butty bar provided tea. Further on field paths took me to rejoin the cycle way track which led for a couple of miles through remote feeling woods. This was the site of Outwood Colliery which closed in 1931 after a fire.
After crossing the busy M62 motorway I entered Prestwich Forest Park, under the 13 Arch Old Railway Bridge, with well signed and used cycle and walking routes. I was walking alongside the Irwell but views were restricted by the abundant vegetation, another wild area where Giant Hogweed has established itself.After all this rural walking it was a shock to walk down the first busy road of the day. I did a rather pointless large loop with the Irwell, this is probably bypassed my most. It was only when I was alongside the Irwell in Salford that I started whistling Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town. The 551ft Hilton Tower acted like a beacon to guide me through streets to near where the Irwell empties into the Manchester Ship Canal. I had walked 18miles today, an exploration of Salford docks can wait till another occasion.