Two Towers – A Cycle Ride Around Haslingden and Darwen

The longer Stockport Community Cycling Club ride in April is always a hilly affair. Andy S’s new ride – Two Towers – certainly proved to be that!

Thirteen club members were up for the challenge as we met at Clough Head Visitor and Information Centre, at Haslingden Grane. Sarah was the back-leader for this ride.

Andy S leads us out

Immediately out of the car park we set off up Grane Road and our first climb. What Andy S called a ‘warmerer upperer’.

Turning off the main road we headed for PIckup Bank and Hoddlesden.

We then dropped down towards Eccleshill.

Before heading down and weaving our way through the edge of Darwen.

Soon we were leaving Darwen and heading for Tockholes. Here we got our first sight of Darwen Tower out on Darwen Hill. It was built in 1898. Apparently you can climb to the top of the tower and on a good day get views out as far as Blackpool, Isle of Man, North Wales and North Yorkshire.

Darwen Tower in the distance

Our journey continued on towards Belmont.

Where we crossed Belmont Reservoir. We had been here before of course on the Rivington Reservoir rides (1) (2).

Martin – all smiles crossing Belmont Reservoir

We climbed up towards local cycle network route 91.

We took a break at Entwistle Reservoir. We were almost half an hour early for our lunchtime booking.

The Strawbury Duck at Turton is a fine eatery and once again the food was excellent. Sarah had an omelette. It’s just a shame that once again the food took over an hour to arrive.

After lunch we began by crossing Wayoh Reservoir.

We picked up cycle network route 91 again.

And headed for Holcombe. Here we passed the second tower – Peel Monument, also known as Holcombe Tower. Erected in 1852, this is a memorial to Sir Robert Peel who was born in nearby Bury.

From Holcombe we dropped down into Helmshore.

And then followed NCN Route 6 to Haslingden.

Finally there was a two mile steady climb up Grane Road.


This was a challenging and excellent 32 mile ride in which we had climbed 3000 feet. Everyone had enjoyed the challenge and felt proud to have reached the finish. Well done!

You can view the Two Towers route below:

Biddulph Grange Garden – A Quirky Playful Paradise

Biddulph Grange Garden is one of the most interesting Grade 1 listed Victorian gardens. Created by James Bateman and his friends Edwin Cooke and Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.

It was a lovely spring day and Sarah and I decided to revisit this National Trust property. Last time we visited was in rather different circumstances, with Sarah recovering from a broken foot.

Upon arrival, the first thing we did was head for the Bateman Tea Room. Then, refreshed we set off for a walk around the gardens, beginning with the Italian gardens

We began by walking around the lake.

Sarah with Biddulph Grange Hall in the background

Then stepped through a tunnel to follow a path alongside the Pinetum.

This brought us to Cheshire Cottage.

Through another tunnel we entered the Egyptian garden.

Sarah with one of the sphinx guarding the Egypt tunnel

We then moved on to Wellingtonia Avenue where twenty years of gardening continue return this part of the garden to its former glory.

We then turned down a path that is clearly used tobring younger people closer to nature.

Today, two of those younger people were us!

A one-eyed owl

Sarah particularly enjoyed the stepping stones and criss-crossed planks.

We then returned to the gardens around the hall.

Two happy faces

We visited James Bateman’s Geological Gallery. This is described as a marriage of geology and theology where during a period of upheaval the deeply religious Bateman attempted to explain new geological finds with those of Christian creation.

We left the Geological Gallery and stopped off to take a look out over Dahlia Walk from the Italia tower.

Next we made our way through The Stumpery. It is apparently Britain’s oldest and an inspiration for many others around the country.

Next, we climbed up to The Joss House, part of the Chinese Garden. This is a little decorated Chinese Temple. The steps up to it are considered to mimic the Great Wall of China.

The Chinese Garden is perhaps Biddulph Grange Garden‘s most famed garden.

It is designed in a Willow Pattern.

Fancy a quick swim?

Or perhaps this is a better spot for a swim?

And through another tunnel is the Himalayan Glen.

Finally we returned to the lake overlooked by the hall.

However, before we finished we stopped off at the Kitchen Garden.

Where we helped out with watering the plants.

And purchased some nice fresh rhubarb for later!

Biddulph Grange Garden once again provided another enjoyable afternoon trip around the world. If you are seeking somewhere to visit with lots to see and do, you cannot go wrong by visiting this wonderful National Trust property.

Barton Aerodrome

Barton Aerodrome was the United Kingdom’s first purpose-built municipal airport. However, in spite of being in Eccles and nearby, we have never previously visited the airport.

So, on a cold morning a healthy group of Stockport Community Cycling Club members arrived at Sale Water Park Visitor Centre for this new ride, and the second club ride this month to an airport!

Gill, officiating the signing ins before the ride

Soon we were setting off down the side of Sale Water Park.

We crossed over the River Mersey and joined local cycle network route 82.

We then picked up the Bridgewater Way, which follows the Bridgewater Canal.

This took us through Stretford and Trafford Park.

At the Manchester Ship Canal we had to wait awhile at Barton Road Swing Bridge as a ship passed through.

Then we picked up the Bridgewater Canal again on the other side.

Near Patricroft we picked up the new Port Salford Greenway.

We then turned towards Peel Green and cycled through the cemetery.

Including across a field …

We joined the A57 and a little further along was City Airport – or better known as Barton Airport, or perhaps even Barton Aerodrome.

This is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the UK.  However, since it lies on the edge of Chat Moss  the aircraft movements area suffers from occasional periods of waterlogging, which sometimes limits fixed wing operations.

At the airport is Runway 26 cafe. We took our coffee break here. The great thing is, they offered a good variety of gluten-free options.

Afterwards, we walked over to the historic control tower and looked out over the small aircraft.

Eventually it was time to move on. We continued along the A57.

We crossed back over the Manchester Ship Canal at Irlam Locks.

Then weaved our way through the streets of Urmston.

Before following paths through Stretford Meadows.

And then following NCN Route 62.

Finally we returned to Sale Water Park.

This was another excellent SCCC ride. We had completed 17 miles.

You can view our Barton Aerodrome route below:

Croft 2017

Croft 2017 (read about the 2016 ride here) was the latest re-incarnation of a popular Stockport Community Cycling Club ride. Popular, not least because it is one of the flattest rides on the calendar. Indeed, it is so flat that we had been arriving too early for lunch, so last year had to extend it a bit to ensure we arrived a little later.

It was another sunny day as twenty of us arrived for the start of the ride at Timperley Sports Club.

We set off weaving our way through Altrincham.

And then out through Dunham Massey.

We made our way over to Warburton.

And crossed the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey at Warburton Bridge.

From here we cycled on through Hollins Lane.

And then Glazebrook.

Before arriving at Culcheth.

Cycling alongside all the rapeseed was a colourful experience.

Next we cycled through the centre of Culcheth.

Before turning towards Croft.

Lunch was at The General Elliot.

This was another great place for lunch that while not advertising gluten-free options helpfully had gluten-free bread and hence Sarah could choose from the range of sandwiches. The food arrived quickly, was well presented and tasty, and reasonably priced. Couldn’t ask for more really.

Note – Paul with his new hat for sheltering from the sun

After lunch we cycled through Locking Stumps and Birchwood.

Then turned onto Manchester Road. This is quite a busy road which we were glad to keep moving and get out of the way as quickly as possible.

Then it was back over Warburton Bridge.

The return route took us towards Dunham Town.

This proved an extremely busy area with people visiting Dunham Massey – possibly because everyone was eager to get out at the first sign of sunshine.

Eventually we managed to make our way out the other side and turned towards Altrincham.

This had been a great day for cycling, and hopefully a sign of a good cycling summer to come. We had cycled 31 miles by the time we arrived back at the start.

You can view the Croft 2017 route below:

Afternoon Ride to Manchester Airport

Sarah and I don’t go along to too many Stockport Community Cycling Club afternoon rides. However, a sunny Saturday afternoon cycle ride to Manchester Airport sounded just fine. And twenty-three other club members agreed!

We met up near Heald Green station on the edge of Wythenshawe.

The route essentially follows the Airport Orbital Cycleway, local cycle route 85.

Before the ride began, however, there was the job of fixing punctures.

Jim avoids being photo-bombed

Soon we were on our way along Simonsway.

We passed through Wythenshawe.

We then turned left into Kirkup Park.

Then Painswick Park where Jim had to ask the local residents to let us through.

After leaving the park we followed Thorley Lane and then Runger Lane.

Next we cycled up Wilmslow Old Road towards the airport.

And into the Runway Visitor Park.

We stopped here for our break. Sarah was disappointed when there seemed to be nothing gluten-free on display. However, when we asked they said yes we do, it’s just ‘upon request’. Sarah’s eyes lit up! And they promptly made her a fantastic gluten-free cheese sandwich. Fabulous! And well done to Concorde Coffee House.

After leaving the park we retraced our steps before turning off on to Sunbank Lane.

And then on to Wilmslow Road.

Where we cycled through the tunnels under the runway.

We next briefly turned in to The National Trust’s Quarry Bank estate.

This took us up alongside the opposite side of the airport.

From here we turned on to Moss Lane.

And then on to Styal Road back towards Heald Green.

Finally we returned back to the start.

This was a fantastic little ten mile cycle ride and clearly enjoyed by everyone who came along.

You can view our Manchester Airport Afternoon ride route below: