As the summer holidays descend and the weather appears to be holding fairly reasonable this July and August, why not dust off those bikes and take the family or yourself on one of the many bike paths around Greater Manchester.
If you’re bored of the static bikes at the gym, looking for a change of scenery from the spin classes, or just want to get out and about and explore the great outdoors, cycling one of the many routes around Manchester is a great way to invigorate your muscles, open up your lungs and rekindle your love of biking!
The benefits of cycling
Cycling is one of the most popular sports in the UK, and it’s easy to see why! It’s an ideal activity for the whole family to get involved with, regardless of fitness level.
As a no impact exercise, it’s great for those who may have suffered injury in the past or are cautious of higher impact workouts like running and aerobics. Cycling doesn’t shock the joints or pound the knees like other forms of exercise.
It engages the muscles in your legs and your bum (and your arms too if you like off-road mountain biking) and will help boost your cardiovascular fitness and burn lots of calories.
Where to cycle in Manchester
There’s an abundance of canals, railway paths and trails in the area, and we’ve put together a few of the best cycle routes around Greater Manchester, with a general indication of the distance and difficulty so you can match an appropriate trail to your fitness level and skill.
Sale Water Park Loop
This is a nice simple route for beginners to get started with, not too far from Hale Country Club.
A gentle paved ride around the water park, the route maintains roughly the same elevation, so you don’t need to worry about challenging climbs.
It’s ideal for families, and there are lots of places to stop off along the way, as you cycle down the Bridgewater Canal from Waterside Plaza, criss-cross the River Mersey and then loop back to Sale.
Manchester Cycleway/Fallowfield Loop
Another off-road route safe for families, the Manchester Cycleway, which follows along the old Fallowfield Loop line, is the ideal path to take if you want to cycle around Manchester, and visit the Velodrome at the other side of the city.
It’s thought to be the longest urban cycle route in the country at 5 miles long (10 miles round trip).
The whole route is paved and away from traffic, so hop on at Sidbury Road in Chorlton, and just follow along until you reach the Velodrome!
Manchester Airport Orbital Route
If you’re interested in a bit of plane watching as well, this route is the perfect bike ride for you, and it’s easy to pick up from Hale. Stop off by Concord and visit Styal Country Park as part of this 8 mile circular route.
Start at Wythenshawe Civic Centre if you need parking, or pick up the route on Rungar Lane heading towards Wilmslow Road. The track then winds around the perimeter of the airport, past the Aviation Viewing Park and underneath the runway, through the tunnels!
You’ll then pick up the bridleway and head back towards Altrincham Road, through Moss Nook, before turning left and back to the starting point.
There is some road travel as part of this route, and some gravel paths, so a mountain bike is more suitable and you’ll need to take care with children crossing junctions.
If you want to go further afield and into the countryside, then why not try one of these routes:
- Head for Glossop and try out the Longdendale Trail, which follows the old Woodhead railway line between Manchester and Sheffield. This route is only 6.5 miles, and has a easy path with gentle gradients, making it suitable for all.
If your prefer to get off-road with some mountain biking, then why not try one of these routes in the Manchester area.
- For a harder challenge, try the Diggle Jiggle, an 11 mile circuit around the villages of Greenfield, Delph and Diggle in East Manchester. The first half is gentle ups and downs, but the second half ramps up the difficulty as you climb long uneven paths and navigate technical descents.
For those of you looking for more serious adventures of a longer nature, there’s plenty to try around, or through the area. You could:
- Hone your skills on the Manchester to Blackpool cycle ride
- Pick up Route 70, the Cheshire Cycleway in Ashley and ride the 176 mile circuit through Alderley Edge, Macclesfield, Congestion, Crewe, Chester and Northwich
- Really test your endurance with the 215 mile Trans Pennine Trail, from Southport at one side of the country to Hornsea on the other!
Have you been out on your bike recently? Share your favourite routes and places to visit with us in the comments section below!