Return of the South Manchester Evening Cycle Ride (10/07/2012)
In Scotland, cycling is classed as "assisted walking"; anywhere it's legal to walk, it's legal (although not necessarily possible!) to cycle. So, with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish & David Millar all taking a day off from their Tour de France exploits, it was down to South Manchester LDWA to take up the challenge.
Duncan & Quentin met John at 7pm outside the Arden Arms, Castle Hill, Bredbury. As the last Duncan time had been on a bicycle was our previous evening ride in 2002, he first did a few laps of the car park. He then took off the stabilisers, and we started off with a leg- & lung-testing pull up Arden Road, turning off along Far Cromwell Road to pass historic Arden Hall, with views opening out across the Tame Valley. There then followed a mile of industrial & urban grot as we crossed the footbridge high above the M60 and passed through Brinnington, to emerge on the former railway above the M60 and Crookiley Way. Even the Midshires Way, which we briefly followed down to Welkin Mill, was marred by fly-tipping. Taking the former A560 up to Lower Bredbury, then Osborne Street (where were you, Steve?), we passed Bredbury Hall (happy memories for Quentin), to emerge into the rural tranquillity of the lower Goyt Valley (this will disappear if the Road Lobby ever get their way & build the A6 bypass).
Following the Dark Lane bridleway past Middle Farm & Goyt Hall, a fine Grade II listed Tudor manor house, we were joined once again by the Midshires Way, continuing to Otterspool. After pausing to admire the new hydroelectric turbine (a double Archimedian screw), we then passed from the brand-new to the very old, heading up tranquil Vale Road, past ancient Chadkirk Chapel and the even older spring, now the site of an annual Well Dressing. On and up now, we passed under the canal bridge, through Burymewick and the leafy lanes of Romiley, to reach the main road by the station. Passing under the railway bridge, we immediately turned up Guywood Lane; Duncan was getting his cycle-legs by now, and as the road climbed ever more steeply, he flew past John, trudging along pushing his 27-speed super-duper "ride up walls" hybrid. At the end of the tarmac, we continued up the track to Healdwood House, crossing a couple of fields to reach the strangely-named Moadlock cul-de-sac.
Crossing over, a short alley led to Greave Fold, a secluded lane. Reaching Sandy Lane, we decided to give Werneth Low a miss, and instead followed the main road down through Woodley, then the A560 over to Gee Cross, turning down Apethorn Lane. Crossing first the abandoned Godley-Apethorn railway (now part of the Trans-Pennine Trail, which we followed for the rest of the ride), then the very-much-still-used Hyde-New Mills line, we reached the end of the tarmac, continuing down a winding and very eroded track, under the canal again, to cross the River Tame at Gibraltar Bridge. Turning left, we followed the riverside path to Haughton Dale, continuing through delightful woodland, to finally reach Stockport Road just across the river from the Arden Arms. Unfortunately the pub had shut early!
Quentin adds: "Anyone who likes the old black and white comedy films with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton will remember the scenes where they are trying to jump on a horse, and go from side to side without ever getting on. Our hero on the borrowed bike emulated, no, improved on this scenario, bouncing on and off and doing his privates no good at all. I'm reliably informed he will be up and about, and walking normally in no time at all."