Lymm – Manchester City centre.
‘Overhead, the light is fading. Below, in the murky water, bubbles rise and burst amid a sludge littered with debris from nights gone by: takeaway boxes, empty beer cans, condom wrappers, needles. The walkway is dotted with tunnels, low-hanging and cobwebbed, where shadows lurk beyond the reach of street lights and the air is heavy with the stench of decay.’ Sarah Rainey writing in the Daily Telegraph. 16 Jan 2015.
Her article rather melodramatically discussed the possibility of a serial killer, nicknamed “The Pusher”, stalking these Manchester canals. 61 bodies in 6 years is the tally, some have met a violent end but others were probably inebriated.
As we rejoined the Bridgewater canal at Lymm on a sunny and frosty day these thoughts never crossed our minds. An interesting and varied morning lay ahead on this well used section of canal.
Things changed in the afternoon as we entered Stretford, the graffiti and litter increased and we felt alone. The tow-path was completely barred [even for us] near Old Trafford Stadium necessitating an unpleasant road diversion only to find ourselves in no man’s land on the wrong side of the canal in a dingy area. Perhaps the anxiety contributed to Conrad taking a nose dive into the concrete, he was lucky to come up with only scalp bruising and twisted glasses. We made our escape to the gentrified Castlefield area all the time marvelling at the complexity of the canals, their basins and the engineering skills that had created them. We were now on the Rochdale Canal. Areas with bright busy canalside cafes gave way to echoing subterranean passages with shadowy figures, I found myself humming the Harry Lime theme. Eventually we emerged into the busy Canal Street and Piccadilly Station to catch the Metro tram to Altrincham, a first for us which left us impressed with the transport system.