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Rochdale Canal - walking end to end (almost)


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Hi Folks, advice please

I have a plan over the summer to walk the entire Rochdale Canal almost end to end - almost as I probably won't walk the "Rochdale 9" in Manchester as I'm reasonably familiar with them already, whereas I scarcely know the rest of the canal. It will be a series of day trips, probably not sucessive days, and the plan is to catch the train from Marple to Manchester Piccadilly, walk east for a day, catch the train back to Piccadily and then back to Marple. Next visit, catch a train to wherever I finished last time (presumably via Piccadilly) and repeat.

Manchester to Sowerby Bridge is 32 miles, my comfortable range is 8-10 miles - especially as I'll have to add the walk to and from the station in Marple so I'm thinking four stages, can anyone offer suggestions as to what those four stages might be? Names of railway stations would be helpful. 

Thank you all!

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I'd base my planning on a canalplanAC route for the canal. The advantages of this is that if you set walking time to say 2mph and lock and swing bridge times to 0 minutes in the preferences, it should be pretty accurate for gentle walking time and distance. The output gives distance in miles and furlongs, then see how these match up with station locations for getting home.

Jen

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That sounds a brilliant and economical idea!

If you take your windlass with you,and empty or fill the locks on your way,it will be just like boating without the expence and trouble of boat ownership.I think you will cover more distance quicker too.

Stoppages won't bother you either, whats not to like? ?

 

 

 

  • Happy 2
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32 minutes ago, Mad Harold said:

If you take your windlass with you,and empty or fill the locks on your way,it will be just like boating without the expence and trouble of boat ownership

 

So, hypothetically, do you have to stop and abandon the trip for a broken paddle?

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Fortunately the Rochdale Canal is amply supplied with stations close to the canal all along its length, but unfortunately the trains on it don't go to Manchester Piccadilly, but to Manchester Victoria.   There is however a frequent (and free) shuttle bus between the two.

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The route divides itself reasonably well into 4 chunks:

Sowerby Bridge to Todmorden (10 miles)

Todmorden to Smithy Bridge (7 miles) 

Smithy Bridge to Rose of Lancaster - Mills Hill Station (7 miles)

Rose of Lancaster to Ducie Street (7 miles).

 

Alternatives are available between Sowerby Bridge and Castleton where the stations are all close to the canal, but you don't really have options between Castleton and Manchester.

All stations are on the Caldervale Line between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.

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You could also consider starting the walk at Halifax, following the Hebble Trail along the former Halifax Branch to Salterhebble, then along the Calder and Hebble to Sowerby Bridge. Adds about 5 miles. You would probably want to rework the other route breaks.

Edited by David Mack
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1 minute ago, David Mack said:

You could also consider starting the walk at Halifax, following the Hebble Trail along the former Halifax Branch to Salterhebble, then ailollowing the Calder and Hebble to Sowerby Bridge. Adds about 5 miles. You would probably want to rework the other route breaks.

 

This also would allow you to see if you're too long to fit Salterhebble Top lock :D

 

 

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It is possible to get a connecting train between Piccadilly and Victoria but its sometimes rammed (talking pre covid days here). The Tram is my favourite method and the trams go into both stations.

 

If you go from Manchester to Sowerby then you do the bad bit first and it just gets better and better.

 

There are a few stations between Manchester and Rochdale but very few trains stop at these so a good study of the timetable will be required.

Castleton station on the outskirts of Rochdale is useful, quite close to the canal. If that's too far for the first day then its Moston.

After Rochdale there are good and mostly frequent stations all the way.

 

The first bit out of Manchester goes through some very rough areas, probably best to avoid evening walking and don't wave your phone about etc etc.

As said, Sowerby to Halifax along the route of the old arm, is a very interesting walk.

 

..............Dave

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17 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Rose of Lancaster - Mills Hill Station

 

The gate from the towpath to the Rose car park has been locked the last couple of times I have been through, but there is a not very visible access available the other side of the main road bridge.

1 minute ago, dmr said:

 

There are a few stations between Manchester and Rochdale but very few trains stop at these so a good study of the timetable will be required.

It not quite as bad as that. A lot of the trains from Man Vic to Leeds are first stop Rochdale, but there are other services that only run to Rochdale and stop at the intermediate stations.

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49 minutes ago, David Mack said:

 

 

It not quite as bad as that. A lot of the trains from Man Vic to Leeds are first stop Rochdale, but there are other services that only run to Rochdale and stop at the intermediate stations.

 

That would make sense, I did wonder why so few trains stopped there. ? I have used Moston and Castleton but only going in the Todmorden direction.

 

...................Dave

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2 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

Fortunately the Rochdale Canal is amply supplied with stations close to the canal all along its length, but unfortunately the trains on it don't go to Manchester Piccadilly, but to Manchester Victoria.   There is however a frequent (and free) shuttle bus between the two.

I'd forgotten that, but having grown up in the area I don't regard getting between the two as a problem - Magpie the Elder and I once walked it in 12 minutes when the alternative was to miss the train that would get us to the match before kick off. :o 

 

1 hour ago, David Mack said:

The route divides itself reasonably well into 4 chunks:

Sowerby Bridge to Todmorden (10 miles)

Todmorden to Smithy Bridge (7 miles) 

Smithy Bridge to Rose of Lancaster - Mills Hill Station (7 miles)

Rose of Lancaster to Ducie Street (7 miles).

 

Alternatives are available between Sowerby Bridge and Castleton where the stations are all close to the canal, but you don't really have options between Castleton and Manchester.

All stations are on the Caldervale Line between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.

 

Very useful thanks

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2 hours ago, David Mack said:

You could also consider starting the walk at Halifax, following the Hebble Trail along the former Halifax Branch to Salterhebble, then along the Calder and Hebble to Sowerby Bridge. Adds about 5 miles. You would probably want to rework the other route breaks.

 

I've already an eye on "what next" so this is useful - with MtE in care up there I'll be in Marple quite a lot and if I plan one long canal walk every visit there's quite a lot to go at! In the winter I think Marple to Manchester (break at Guide Bridge) and possibly the nearer bits of the HNC.  

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5 hours ago, David Mack said:

You could also consider starting the walk at Halifax, following the Hebble Trail along the former Halifax Branch to Salterhebble, then along the Calder and Hebble to Sowerby Bridge. Adds about 5 miles. You would probably want to rework the other route breaks.

Halifax - Hebden Bridge - 10 miles

Hebden Bridge - Littleborough - 10 miles

Littleborough - RoL - 9 miles

RoL - Ducie St - 7 miles

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52 minutes ago, Cheshire cat said:

The tram journey to Rochdale takes such a circuitous route it is almost as quick to walk!

Great idea to walk the Rochdale. I might give it a go myself. 

Oh well. Saw the trams at various points from the canal when we did the Rochdale by boat some years ago, but never actually used them. Thought it might be a possibility.

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38 minutes ago, David Mack said:

Halifax - Hebden Bridge - 10 miles

Hebden Bridge - Littleborough - 10 miles

Littleborough - RoL - 9 miles

RoL - Ducie St - 7 miles

Noted, as I'm coming from the other end it had crossed my mind to stop at Hebden Bridge - I can pave myself and if it works to overshoot Sowerby Bridge I can do so (overshooting Manchester has less appeal) 

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4 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

Noted, as I'm coming from the other end it had crossed my mind to stop at Hebden Bridge - I can pave myself and if it works to overshoot Sowerby Bridge I can do so (overshooting Manchester has less appeal) 

 

Hebden Bridge is well worth a visit, even an overnight stop. Canal and open drydock, two rivers and aqueduct, and a moderately well preserved railway station and signal box.

Plus old hippies, lesbians, grumpy Yorkshire men, shops and pubs. Better midweek than weekends.

Sowerby is also quite interesting, fine canal basin and working boatyard.

 

..................Dave

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1 minute ago, Ianws said:

Hardcastle Crags near Hebden is worth a detour. Home of hairy wood ants and a lovely valley to explore.

If you walk right up through the Crags to Blake Dean you will come to the remains of this:

Trestle_bridge_of_Blake_Dean_Railway.jpg

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Three locomotives on THAT structure at the same time ?

 

All the timber has long gone but some of those stone bases are still very much in existence, lovely place for a walk and picnic. There is a little bit of history of that railway on the www.

 

...........Dave

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9 minutes ago, dmr said:

Three locomotives on THAT structure at the same time ?

 

All the timber has long gone but some of those stone bases are still very much in existence, lovely place for a walk and picnic. There is a little bit of history of that railway on the www.

 

...........Dave

I believe the photo was taken during load testing at the completion of construction.

 

On completion of the reservoirs the bridge materials were auctioned off for reuse in 1912.

 

A bit more detail of one of the fifteen 3ft gauge locos:

 

800px-Steam_locomotive_'Esau'_on_the_Bla

 

And how they got them 300 feet up the hill from Hebden Bridge.

800px-Steam_locomotive_being_dragged_up_

Edited by David Mack
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Thanks, we walked up there and then spent a whole evening searching the www but I don't think we found that picture.

Are any of those locomotives still alive?

 

We met the "Classic Diesel Injection" man on the Long Causeway yesterday, there is tons of local engineering history that never gets near the www, just real life stuff that gets lost as the older generation dies off.

 

...........Dave

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