Saturday, 3 January 2015

Manchester Urban Mountainbike Trails (Southwest Manchester)

This post is the first of a series of four, cataloguing the 'urban' trails suitable for mountain biking within the vague limits of Greater Manchester, starting with the south-west quadrant which has a number of green spaces along the Mersey valley. Unfortunately, a lot of the paths within the various green spaces are very tame. There are a few bits of half-decent singletrack dotted around though, so a route could be pieced together and hopefully this guide will assist in that process. These posts will more likely serve as a reference guide for people trying to find trails locally. There's a lot of repetition so it'll make for pretty dull general reading. If you're looking for proper singletrack: Hardy Farm is good, but small, Kenworthy woods has a stretch of rooty fun and Priory woods has a few fun paths and a couple of dirt jumps. Aside from those, the vast majority of the paths are non-technical.

If you think I've left any out, or that I've missed something, drop me an email.

Ivy Green

Ivy green is a patch of wood, fens and fields near Chorlton, with the Mersey snaking through the area. There's not a lot of proper mountain biking, it's more like family riding, with flat, level paths. There's a tiny length of singletrack running through a section of woods, although the vast majority of the paths here are completely vanilla. That said, it's a pleasant area, bikes are permitted pretty much throughout and the fens are pretty nice.

The majority of the paths resemble the ones shown below. They're wide and flat.

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The path alongside the Mersey. Again, it's a wide path without any challenge.

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The paths through the fens.

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Some singletrack with minimal undulations divide the field ().

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There's also some singletrack with a couple of bends running through the woods, which run roughly parallel to to Chorlton Brook.

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Precious singletrack for a whole 300 metres.

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A couple of roots going over the singletrack is about as technical as it gets.

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The path peters out, leading to this mossy patch of woods.

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The paths around Ivy Green aren't challenging, except for one relatively easy section of singletrack which winds through the woods.

Priory Gardens

Priory gardens lie to the south of the motorway, cut off for Chorlton waterpark. It's a small patch of wood, with a mixture of surfaced path some singletrack and a few (disused?) jumps. You can access Priory gardens by going beneath the motorway. Considering the competition, it's not a bad area, but small.

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Most of the paths are about doubletrack width, flat and surfaced with cement or gravel.

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Some singletrack winds through the coppiced area. The path itself is largely featureless on the ground, apart from a few twists and turns.

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Unfortunately, there's only a few hundred metres of proper singletrack, with few features.

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There's a rooty 'step' section, this is probably the most technical feature in this area, with relatively large roots forming a rugged series of steps.

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Jumps, too! They seem a little forgotten.

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Kenworthy Woods

Kenworthy woods is one of the larger patches of woods in the area, with a reasonable density of mostly non-techy trails. The paths are mostly wide footpaths with basic gravel hardpack, although there's also a few dirt trails which can get waterlogged and muddy, and some rooty singletrack. I also found one lonely jump. Like the others, it's not exactly going to rock your world.

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There's a bit of singletrack bisecting the fen area within these woods, although it's not demanding. Parts of the paths can get muddy, although nothing to call home about.

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The paths alongside the Mersey will connect you up to many of the other riding locations. The photo below shows the entrance at the northwest corner of Kenworthy woods, which is near the start of the only piece of singletrack I'd actually describe as proper riding. If you take the path on the right, leading into the woods it'll take you...

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...to this junction of tracks leading uphill, the start of the singletrack is on the right, although the leaves are providing camouflage, it's not far up the path after entering the woods (~30 metres).

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The singletrack here is almost as good as it gets, locally (not saying much, I realise), with undulations, small roots and an awkward camber due to the hillside. Unfortunately, it's only about 200 metres long, and trees have fallen over the end of the trail. Due to relatively low use, the trail also tends to fallen branches and leaf litter strewn across it.

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Hardy Farm

Hardy farm is a small patch of land with some woods and open fields. The woods probably have the highest density of proper singletrack, some of which is more technical than anything else in the locality. It can get muddy and overgrown, but it's significantly more interesting riding than many other local areas. Some of the paths are very tight and twisty, giving more of a challenge than much else in this general area. Unfortunately, it's popular with dog walkers so you've got to be aware and not take out anyone while barrelling round a turn. Although dense with paths, it's still very small so you'll burn through them rapidly.

The main path running along the east edge of the woods. It's muddy in patches.

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Grassy singletrack at the southern edge of the woods, near the Mersey.

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A number of singletrack paths running through the woods. They're twisty and fun, but moderately muddy, and the trees are closely spaced.

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Some of the singletrack is becoming lost to intruding foliage.

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Chorlton Water Park

The Chorlton Water Park has one main track, shown below, of wide hardpack which circles the lake.

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A path running parallel with the main track is slightly more rugged, on the northern edge of the lake. This is about as wild as the water park gets.

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Barlow Tip

To the west of Chorlton Water Park, a small area called Barlow tip has a main dirt road, and some mucky singletrack IMGP0991

There's a few bits of overgrown singletrack here, the best of which runs alongside the edge of the neighbouring golf course.

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The singletrack through the fens is not particularly fun - too lumpy and mucky.

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Stretford Meadows

Stretford Meadows is a wide open greenspace to the north of the motorway, accessible by following the transpennine bridleway (national cycling route 62). It's criss-crossed with a singletrack paths and gravel tracks, although they're all tame. The area is slightly raised, so you do get a view of the surrounding area.

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It's an open meadow with a network of single- or doubletrack paths, an a small hill in the middle. The various tracks are a mixture of dirt and loose gravel.

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There's nothing technical or challenging, but you get a view from the hill...of the motorway. I guess you could introduce a new rider to descending by shoving them down the steepest path down the hill - you can see this descent at the end of the path, in the photo below.

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Kickety Brook

Kickety is a green space south of the M60, near Stretford Meadows. There's no singletrack to be found, just muddy hardpack tracks.

Green Space - near Old Eea Brook

A good number of paths slice up this area, fairly muddy but none particularly interesting. The protrusion of land at the turn of the river looks good on satellite few, but floods pretty regularly so it's best as a testing ground for your bog-crawling fatbike rather than fun mountain biking. This might change if it hasn't flooded for a while, but when I rode there on the 'cross bike, I'd push the bike for about 12 feet before the tyres would clog up to the point of uselessness.

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So much mud.

That's the breakdown of the southwest Manchester's greenspaces I've explored thus far, I'll add more if I find anything else noteworthy and hopefully add the additional 3 quadrants in the future. Like I said at the top, send me an email if you think I'm missing some sublime piece of obscure singletrack.

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