The whole point of off-road cycling is to get away from the traffic and the noise of the city. The beauty of Manchester is you can be in the Lakes, Peak District, Yorkshire Dales or the Cheshire plains in a few hours.
One of the best – and easiest – routes to the countryside takes you from the Stockport – or nearby starting points of Levenshulme, Gorton or Denton – out into Cheshire in a couple of hours.
The outward half of the 42km (26 mile) route is 90 per cent cycle path, starting near Reddish on the Fallowfield Loop.
More of a straight line than a loop, the path as been resurfaced and is an easy, flat ride that is eight miles in total from Fairfield to Chorlton.
It takes you through Burnage, Fallowfield and Whalley Range, emerging near Chorlton at the St Werbergh’s Metrolink tram stop.
From there, head across the centre of Chorlton – the only part of urban cycling in the outward leg – to the Bridgwater Canal near Stretford Mall where you join National Cycle Route 62 that runs from Yorkshire to Merseyside.
Route 62 connects Fleetwood with Selby in North Yorkshire and forms part of the Trans-Pennine Trail – the full section os over 200 miles.
Again, it’s another flat cycle path (it’s by the side a canal, after all), this time taking you through Sale – where you can stop for a drink at either the King’s Ransom or the Slug and Lettuce – and then Altrincham before emerging on the back roads near Dunham Massey.
There are houses backing onto the water and people living on the water in their floating homes, as well as a glimpse of the canal’s industrial heritage and its reason for being with the huge Linotype Works being demolished.
The cycle path gets a bit rough past Altrincham but it is possible to get to Lymm or Warrington.
After a rest at Dunham Massey or the Dunham Brewery, there are a number if ways to get home – back the way you came, along the River Mersey or through Altrincham and along the A560, cutting through Wythenshawe Park.
From the park, it’s possible to pick up the River Mersey or just head through Didsbury and home.
The ride takes about three hours without a break but is also a great day ride with a break in Dunham Massey or Lymm.
The cycling is easy and best done with a hybrid bike as parts of the canal haven’t been surfaced yet.