Cycling in Manchester is one of the best ways to see this culturally-rich city’s fascinating history. A huge industrial sector has shaped the geography of this thriving place and by bike you can both explore the vibrant streets and get out into the surrounding nature.
Use the many canals and riverside paths to pedal your way past old warehouses and factories before heading out south into sprawling farmland without so much as a hill in sight. Cycle routes around Manchester will take you to country parks, up pretty river valleys and even into the neighbouring Peak District National Park.
Balancing flat trails with great opportunities to add in a hill climb or two, getting to know Manchester by bike is easy. Two-wheeled adventures will take you to hidden places, beautiful riverbanks and patches of glorious nature you never knew existed.
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Canals have a sense of magic around them and cycling along Manchester’s is a fantastic way to get to know the heart of this city. Serene, still water accompanies you as you explore the vast Manchester Ship Canal as well as the Ashton, Bridgewater, Peak Forest and Rochdale Canals.
Some canals have the ability to lead you for miles, turning gentle morning rides into multi-day adventures if you want. Cycle routes by Manchester’s rivers can be just as impressive, with the Mersey, Irwell and Tame all meandering through the city and its surroundings.
The River Tame will take you through Reddish Vale Country Park with its ponds, woodlands and open parkland. Keep an eye out for bright kingfishers as you pedal through. The River Mersey runs through wonderful green spaces and you can follow it from park to park on the outskirts of the city. Meadows, wetlands and woodlands can all be found on the banks of this well-known river.
If it’s hills and dramatic scenery you’re looking for, the phenomenal geology of the Peak District awaits to the east. Pedal into the Peaks to find a fantastic array of cycle trails from off-road tracks up steep climbs to sweeping valley routes with the grand, rolling heights towering above.
Bike rides in Manchester never fail to introduce you to the city and area’s intriguing history. The city remains packed with fascinating buildings from repurposed factories and warehouses to mills and dockyards.
The Tudor manor, Ordsall Hall can be found on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal in Salford. Out of place amongst the modern media companies of the area, Ordsall Hall provides a glimpse of Manchester’s history before it became the industrial powerhouse from the 1700s onwards.
Cycling out of the city to the west, head to Worsley on the Leigh branch of the Bridgewater Canal. Stunning 18th and 19th century buildings line the canal here creating wonderfully picturesque scenes. Home to coal mines, the canal link between Worsley and Manchester was immensely important during the Industrial Revolution.
Wherever you end up pedaling in Manchester and its surroundings, history will surround you and carry you along with it.
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Explore more of North West England: Browse the best Cycling Routes in other regions.