With the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks all within easy striking distance, it’s fair to say cyclists in Manchester are spoilt for choice for day trips. However, you don’t need to travel for hours before starting your ride because the city itself is well served by a network of quiet roads and trails that are easy to access.
Sustrans, the UK’s walking and cycling charity, has maps and info on all the UK’s cycle routes, so we asked the experts there for advice on four excellent rides in and around Manchester. All of them can be completed by cyclists of any level and are easily extended if you’d like a longer ride. Click the titles for more info on each ride.
1. Salford To Clifton Country Park Or Prestwich
Distance: 5 miles (8km) one way
This short ride uses a section of the mammoth Sustrans National Cycle Route 6, which runs from London to the Lake District. From Salford as far as Bury you can ride along riverbank trails with just a few connecting roads. Look out for artwork along the way, as the ride takes in some of the 70 sculptures in the Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail, which extends for 53km to Rossendale.
2. Manchester Piccadilly To Levenshulme
Distance: 9 miles (14.5km)
You don’t need to head for the countryside around Manchester to enjoy a quiet cycle. This ride starts in the city centre and uses the old canal and railway networks to get to the southside suburbs. From Levenshulme you can jump on a train back to the centre or carry on to Chorlton, where you can access the traffic-free Transpennine Trail towards Stockport.
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3. Marple To Macclesfield
Distance: 11 miles (17.7km)
Take a short train from Manchester to Marple to access the leafy lanes of the Middlewood Way, which follows the route of the old Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple railway through the Cheshire countryside. The quiet trail is well served by a variety of excellent pubs and cafés, making for a cracking day of riding and refuelling.
4. Stretford To Sale Or Lymm
Distance: 4 miles (6.4km) out and back
Another fine ride along a canal towpath, this takes in a section of the Bridgewater Canal that was recently upgraded to become a popular spot for cyclists and pedestrians. If you don’t get your cycling fix from the route along the canal, jump on the Transpennine Trail at Sale or Altrincham to extend your day in the saddle.
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Sustrans, the body responsible for the National Cycle Network, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. For more information and route inspiration visit sustrans.org.uk