Littleborough to Manchester along the Rochdale Canal

The whole walk takes about 6½ hours. Not that I can imagine anyone else would ever want to do it. I only did it so that when people ask, "How far do you live from Manchester?" I can now reply, in all sincerity, "Walking distance".

  1. It was cold, and it was snowing.

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  2. The lovely chemical works between Littleborough and Smithy Bridge. Just be thankful you can't smell it.

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  3. The area around Clegg Hall, on the far side of Smithy Bridge. The mill in the foreground burned-down last year and, rumour has it, will be rebuilt as flats. That'll change the area, as at the moment the only way into it is an unmade road.

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  4. The view along the canal on the way into Rochdale. No, I can't walk on water. Think I can sometimes, but can't.

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  5. For some reason this bit of the walk reminded me of a train journey through Belgium I did some years ago. Yes, it really is that exciting.

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  6. The HQ of Zen.co.uk (internet service providers) alongside the canal. I probably ought to stop in and pay my outstanding bill but, er, no time for that though as there's walking to be done.

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  7. On the way through Rochdale the area around the canal is a mixture of old, new, neglected and parks.

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  8. Looking back up the towpath. It was drizzling constantly by now, and still cold. But thanks to Nokia putting a radio in my phone and Radio 2 on a Saturday it was all quite enjoyable.

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  9. Shock! A bend in the canal.

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  10. Just round the bend and the driver of this one obviously lost control trying to take the corner too quickly. They can be a nightmare, those dredgers, once the back end starts sliding.

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  11. Some of the older buildings alongside the canal, such as this one, are absolutely massive. I wanted to do this walk just to see how many of the old buildings from the heyday of the canal (the Industrial Revolution, I suppose) have survived.

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  12. It's not the most scenic walk in the world, let's be honest. Looks more like a crime scene.

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  13. This must be a new bit of the canal, on the outskirts of Oldham. The M60 is just behind.

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  14. The canal goes under the M60, so we have this little bridge to get over it. Great, but how about a sign on the other side telling you how to get back to towpath again so you don't end up slithering along the bank on the wrong side of the canal from the towpath? Thanks Oldham Council.

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  15. I thought it would all be built-up from here to Manchester, but as you can see it isn't.

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  16. Now that's what I call a mill.

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  17. Now that's what I call a grim housing estate. People walking along the canal with their shopping seem pleasant, though, and it's not often you don't get a friendly greeting as you pass. Maybe I was just lucky.

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  18. Mills in the mist. I'm beginning to think I really should be in Manchester by now - I'm cold, soaked and my legs ache. Ah, diddums.

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  19. Any way you look at it, that is one huge building. I'd worked out where I was by this point, having seen the large white circular gas plant off to the left that I recognise from driving out of Manchester.

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  20. Looking back at the same building. Manchester City's new ground isn't far from here.

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  21. Awaiting redevelopment or demolition? I hope it's the former - I think we've destroyed enough of these old buildings by now, and should try and preserve those that are left.

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  22. Some grim 60's and 70's housing around here. The book 'Manchester, England' by Dave Haslam - which is a great read - explains where it all went wrong for areas like this on the outskirts of the city.

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  23. Redevelopment underway at Ancoats. I think all these are due to be offices rather than housing. One of them may be the one that Dave Haslam refers to in the intro to his book.

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  24. A 'Canal Watch Area'. What's that all about? Are they expecting it to do anything it shouldn't, like turn into a river and start making tributaries and white-water rapids or something?

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  25. Bright lights, big city.

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  26. Getting in towards the centre of Manchester. It's posh here, with lights under the bridges and everything. The old cobbles are very rounded and almost impossible to walk on, especially when wet. Would it be easier in clogs, rather than hiking boots? Is that the secret?

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  27. Piccadilly Basin, with the station behind the building in the centre. This development is, or will be, mainly residential I think.

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  28. End of the road. I think the canal does reappear briefly around Canal Street, and carries on down to Deansgate, but that'll have to wait for another day. Now I'm knackered and need to sit down with a pint. Or two. Better find a seat at the bar, as well, because I won't be standing up and sitting down any more than I really have to.

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