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5 Aug 2020 - 4 minutes

The best (water)ways to enjoy Manchester’s canals

Waterway walking blog header

When thinking of Venice, the first thing that comes to mind is its canals. Images of gondolas punting through city are plastered on every postcard. Like Venice, Manchester boasts its own impressive network of canals and waterways that ribbon through its streets, providing great places to unwind, walk, eat, drink and relax. Or if you’re feeling more active, a run or a cycle might be more up your ‘canal’!

We’ve profiled the best spots and activities for you to fully enjoy everything the ‘Venice of the North’ has to offer!

The wonderful waterway walks

Manchester Wharf City Trail

This 2.5-mile circular walk begins at The Wharf in Castlefield. The route takes in some of the highlights of Manchester from the old canals and Gothic revival town hall, to the more recent additions such as the Civil Justice Centre and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Castlefield district was once the site of the Roman-era fort of Mamucium, established in AD 79. It guarded the Roman road that ran from Chester to York. Castlefield is a conservation area due to its rich industrial history.

As you head out of the wharf, the route takes you under Deansgate Tunnel and up a slope alongside Lock Number 91. You’ll see several bars and restaurants set into the arches of Old Deansgate Lock. The walk follows the towpath past a number of old mills and warehouses towards the town hall.

After admiring the Grade I listed building, continue along the route to Hardman Square, home to Spinningfields. The area was developed in the 2000s as a modern business, retail and residential quarter of the city.

Looping back around, you’ll pass the Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the former Liverpool Road railway station. Eventually you will return back at The Wharf pub for a well-earned drink.

The Wharf in Castlefield Manchester

Rochdale Canal Path

This one’s a bit longer, clocking in at 4.8 miles. Beginning at Deansgate Lock, just on the doorstep of AXIS, this is the signature canal path run in Manchester. The route provides a good variety of landscape, including both urban and rural spots. The first 1-2 miles passes through central Manchester and gets more pastoral as it heads out of the city.

If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, you can follow the canal for its full 32 miles to Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire. The towpath is probably the easiest walking route through the Pennines, as it takes you through the heart of the hills at a relatively gentle gradient.

Rochdale Canal and towpath looking down towards Beetham Tower and AXIS

Medlock Valley Way

This walk kicks off a stone’s throw from Manchester Picadilly station and continues for 12 miles along the River Medlock, finishing at Bishop Park near Oldham. Heading east along the river, you pass Manchester City football stadium and Phillips Park before entering a quaint section of park and woodland through Clayton Vale. The reserve is home to a number of amazing mountain bike trails run by the National Cycling Centre.

The walk continues past Droylsden and the pretty Daisy Nook Country Park. The final section takes you through Strines Dale to Bishop Park.

A bridge spans a shallow river along the Medlock Way near Manchester

The bars and restaurants

Rain Bar

Rain bar is a multi-award-winning bar in the heart of Manchester, serving a selection of cask ales, premium spirits and wines. It serves traditional pub grub with mouth-watering specials available all day, every day. What’s more, its tiered beer garden leads right down to the canal’s edge. Enjoying a pint and dangling your feet over the water’s edge will have you in that holiday mood in no time!

People drinking outside Rain Bar on the banks of a canal in Manchester

The Wharf – Castlefield

Situated in Castlefield, The Wharf is one of Manchester’s most popular pubs in the summer months due to its pretty views of longboats, bridges and its large terrace right on the side of - you’ve guessed it - the canal! Surrounded by water, trees and flowerbeds, The Wharf makes the Venetian dream a reality.

The Wharf Pub in Castlefield Manchester

Canal Street

As its name suggests, Canal Street is situated alongside a stretch of the Rochdale Canal and has become the hub of Manchester’s LGBTQI+ community. The pedestrianised street is lined with a number of bars and restaurants, such as Via, Richmond Tea Rooms and Bar Pop. Many have waterside drinking spaces underneath a canopy of trees. Venice who?

Rochdale Canal and Canal Street with trees in full leaf

We hope this list has ‘wet’ your appetite for a waterway adventure! If you’d like to have all this on your doorstep and are looking for a change of scenery, have a look at our available homes today and we’ll help you set sail to your brand-new home!

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