Manchester Sports


Cycling Around Manchester

Trails, Clubs & Facilities in Greater Manchester & the North-West

There are over
400 kilometres of identified cycle routes within Greater Manchester,
of which about one-third are car free. They include canal towpath
and abandoned railway routes as well as public parks, open countryside
and river valley trails.
In compiling
this web page we have relied heavily on Neil Simpson’s fabulous
book, “Manchester Cycle Rides” (details following)
and heartily recommend it to all would-be cyclists, whether hardened
veterans or novice beginners.

Manchester Cycle Rides by Neil Simpson

“Manchester Cycle Rides”

By Neil Simpson. ISBN 1 84425 026 1. Spiral bound, Limp Cover. Publisher:
Haynes Publishing.
20 great rides around Greater Manchester including offroad tracks,
cycle trails and the Sustrans National Cycle Network – a must for
all local leisure cyclists.

Manchester Cycle Trails

Centre & Salford

A 7 mile easy
and largely flat route running from Piccadilly Rail Station to Victoria
Station and taking in Salford Quays with the Imperial War Museum
North and the Lowry as well as historic Castlefield and Manchester
United’s Old Trafford Football Ground.

Valley River Trails

Two possible
routes: First, an easy 9 mile route beginning at Chorlton-cum-Hardy
and taking in Sale Water Park, Simon’s Bridge and the Mersey Valley.
Mountain bike is recommended as 85% is off road and therefore car-free.
Second, a longer 19 mile route to Dunham Park taking in the River
Mersey, Dunham Massey Park and its historic house. Only about one-third
is car-free, but this is identified as an easy ride with no hills


A ride through
and around Manchester’s largest public park, with its historic house
and picturesque lake. 14 miles in total and of medium difficulty
with some on road riding called for.

Valley Trail

A round trip
of 16 miles – virtually all off-road and car-free – just dog walkers
and horse riders, and an easy fairly flat ride with just a few short
gradients. Follows the substantially landscaped Irwell Valley, crosses
the M60 and then continues along the defunct East Lancs Railway
line, (which can be muddy after rain) past Philips Park and on to
Radcliffe. This section is also a popular bridleway with walkers
and equestrians. Part of the National Cycle Network Route 6.

Hill & Hollins

Starting from
Tandle Hill Country Park in Royton, an 11 mile route, largely on
roads and little of it car-free. An easy to medium difficulty ride
with plenty of tarmac surfaced roads and no major hills to climb.
Takes in part of the Rochdale Canal towpath and through the woods
at Hopwood Hall.


Virtually all
off-road and traffic-free this is a short 4 mile easy ride trail
around Lever Park for which a mountain bike is recommended. Fantastic
woodland trails, the Great House barn (with refreshments), Rivington
Village, Reservoir and Castle


Starting and
finishing in Radcliffe, at the northern end of the Irwell Valley
Trail (Route 10) and up to Tottington. A medium grade 17 mile route
with about one-quarter traffic-free. Follows the route of the partially
restored Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, with excellent surfaced

Manchester Towpaths

Takes in the
Manchester Velodrome and Sports City as well as Ashton and Rochdale
Canal towpaths. About half of this nine mile route is car-free and
fairly easy going.

Cross & the West Pennine Moors/h3>

A 12 mile road-based
route, none of it traffic-free, rated as medium grade with a few
steep climbs. Takes in Entwistle, Delph Reservoir, Turton, Bromley
Cross, Edgworth and Egerton. Not recommended for absolute beginners
or children.

Road Ride

All of it on
roads, none of which is car-free, but mostly along quiet lanes,
this 10 mile route is rated as difficult with several hills to negotiate.
Takes in Anglezarke and Yarrow Reservoirs, moors, and the Great
House barn at Rivington


A medium grade
fairly long 16 mile ride, about half car-free which begins and ends
at Wigan’s famous pier, taking in part of the Leeds & Liverpool
Canal and Haigh Country Park.

Lake to Watergrove Reservoir

A 14 mile difficult
route for Mountain Bikes only. Long climbs and rocky trails from
Hollingworth Lake Visitor Centre, through Wardle, Shore, Littleborough,
The Pennine Bridleway and part of the Rochdale Canal.

Nook to Hartshead Pike

A 9 mile long,
short, difficult and hilly route for mountain bikes. Through the
Medlock Valley to Hartshead Pike.

to Lymm

13 miles of
easy-ish riding, about one-third of which is car-free, which starts
and ends in Altrincham town centre. Takes in Lymm, Dunham Woodhouses
and part of the Bridgewater Canal, before returning back to Altrincham.

Massey to Tatton Park

A 14 mile medium
grade route, none of which is car-free and suitable for any type
of bicycle.

Way and Lyme Park

A 16 mile long
medium grade route taking in the Macclesfield Canal towpath, Poynton,
Disley and Lyme Park. A study bike or mountain bike is recommended.
Somewhat hilly for children and beginners.


Two possible
routes: first, a long 13 mile clockwise route, three-quarters of
which is car-free. Largely flat and easy riding, with some short
climbs and off road rough surfaces for which a mountain bike is
recommended. Reddish Vale, Portland Basin, Ashton and High Peak
Canals included.
Second, beginning and ending at the Reddish Vale Visitor Centre,
a 7 mile easy route, part of which joins the Trans-Pennine Trail
(see below), touches the outskirts of Stockport town centre before
turning back north towards Reddish.

to Tatton Park

A long 20 mile
route, virtually hill-free but all on roads so no car-free riding.
Takes in Wilmslow, Ashley, Knutsford, bypasses Mobberley and ends
at Tatton Hall

The author on National Cycle Network Route 6 in the Irwell Valley

NorthWest Cycle Routes

The Cheshire

A well signposted
easy-to-follow 135 mile (216 km) route along quiet byways, forming
a circuit which covers most of Cheshire’s undulating countryside,
with opportunities to discover its quiet pubs, old cottages and
sleepy villages, as well as castles, craft workshops and beautiful

The North
Lancashire Cycleway

Launched in
1982, this cycleway runs through beautiful Lancashire hill country
from its start at Inglewhite near the famous Longridge Fell and
runs towards the coast through Lancaster, the Bowland Fells and
the Ribble Valley, passing through Waddington, Ribchester, Slaidburn
and Clitheroe.

The Pennine

A long distance
off-road trail for cyclists and equestrians, an alternative to the
Pennine Way, and stretches from Peak District northwards into Northumberland.

The Delamere

In the heart
of rural Cheshire, there are many miles of clearly marked cycle-paths
through the forest. For more information: Tel: 01606-882167.

The Trans-Penine

The so-called
“TPT” is part of the National Cycle Network and is a coast-to-coast
route from Liverpool in the west to Hull in the east, a journey
of some 215 miles (344km). Shared by cyclists and walkers alike,
it is largely car-free and further information can be found on their
website at

National Cycle Network & Sustrans

Sustrans is a
national charity that works with local authorities to create the National
Cycle Network, which is currently around 10,000 miles in length. Around
one-third of the network is traffic-free, dedicated specifically to
pedal-power, and the remainder are predominantly quiet lanes and byways.

Manchester’s most
important part of this network is Route Six, a north-south trail beginning
in Salford and travelling north along the Irwell Valley Trail and
on up to the Lake District. For more information see their website


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This page last updated 14 Jun 10.