I can’t get away from canals at present. Family duties will see me down in Manchester for a few days so I decided to look at this circuit which I’ve had on the back boiler for awhile.
The South Pennine Ring is a 71mile circuit north of Manchester combining parts of the Rochdale, Calder & Hebble, Huddersfield Broad and Narrow and Ashton Canals.
Completion of the circuit by boat has only been possible since 2002 with the restoration of the Rochdale and of the Huddersfield Narrow. Enthusiastic and dedicated pressure groups made this feasible but major engineering work was needed, particularly where motorways crossed the defunct system. Money came from many sources and various plaques reflect the Millennium Lottery Charity funding.There are a large number of locks, needed to cross the Pennines twice, and the highest and longest tunnel [Standedge] in Britain. The original canals played an important role in the area’s industrial and weaving heritage. Several interesting towns are visited and there are reminders of the past everywhere. Obviously the only canal traffic now is pleasure boats but the towpath gives the additional benefit of a long distance circular walk.
The Canal & River Trust was launched in 2012, taking over from British Waterways, to oversee canals, rivers reservoirs and docks in England and Wales. Throughout the walk there will be much evidence of their work, aided by volunteers, to maintain this important heritage.
I had previously walked most of the Ashton from Piccadilly to Portland Basin three years ago. So the plan was to walk the rest in a clockwise direction over a few days using my son’s house in Stretford as my base, taking public transport at the beginning and end of each day. An economical and fairly practical way of completing the ring. This would be another step towards my fully fit walking rehabilitation since overuse damage to my left hip’s ligaments last year.