Rochdale Canal: Navigation Street to Hulme Hall Lane

Rochdale Canal: Navigation Street to Hulme Hall Lane

  If I was planning my walks in a methodical fashion, I’d have started at the beginning. Canals, after all, have very clear starting points, and the Rochdale’s is Castlefield Basin. I write that and then go and check something. Yep, wrong way round. Castlefield might be my beginning and the bit of the Rochdale I know but, in reality, it’s the end. The canal actually starts in Sowerby, climbing to its summit on the Pennines, 600 feet above sea level, before dropping back down, via 56 locks, to the junction in Manchester with the Bridgewater Canal. I keep getting stuff wrong at the moment, which is fine because it means I’m LEARNING! I made another, fairly significant, error on the day of the walk. My plan is to walk along the Ashton Canal...

How to Map a Canal

How to Map a Canal

You might have seen one of the canals in Manchester from the train. Maybe you’ve had a drink at a Castlefield bar, or stood and watched as the geese on the Irwell drift their way past the Lowry Hotel. Canal Street? Yeah, sure, but which canal? One of the things about waterways in a city is that they keep disappearing: under roads, under whole buildings. The towpath is there for a bit, but then you have to climb up again, because of building works or because the path just disappears. It’s the other way round if you’re on the water. You make your way through, on your sunken, private route, with little thought of which road you’re near, or whether there’s a city landmark nearby. The way is measured by locks and bridges, by where you can...