Cycling around Manchester
Cycling around Manchester, interesting? Manchester does not have the name to be the nicest city in England. But the year I lived in Manchester I saw a side of the city I had not expected.
To my surprise Manchester, despite its reputation, turned out to be much nicer then I had expected. The old city center was nicely renovated after the bombings of the mid 1980's. And outside the city I found some amazingly beautiful places.
I was to live in the southern areas of Manchester, near Chorlton. This was a reasonable base to explore the areas outside the city center. The Chorlton Park was quite nearby for a late afternoon stroll and the Chorlton Water Park was a place to cycle around if you didn't want to go to far out, or if you simply had not much need to exercise a lot. Whatever people tell you about Manchester, there are very pleasant parks in Manchester.
But the traveler in me was soon bored with those parks, nice or not. I wanted to do some cycling around Manchester, to make some kilometers, find out what was to be seen outside the city. To do so, I had to cycle sometimes for about an hour to reach the city borders.
Thus I started to explore Fallowfield and Levenshulme and from there to Stockport. Although I didn't like Stockport much, i was a good base to explore some of the southern routes leading to Buxton through the hills. Here I realized how different the city was from the countryside. The road through the hills to Buxton was gorgeous, not a lot of traffic, all smiling people and excellent cycling.
With Buxton as a beautiful stopping over point I had plenty to see here, to come back regularly. The town breaths still what I call that typical English atmosphere. Sure, Buxton is touristy. And not for nothing. it's settled in the hills, has a great preserved old city center but I doubt a lot of foreigners come here.
The roads from Buxton to Macclesfield were also worth to cycle. Rolling hills, quiet roads, wide open landscapes, lots of birds though I seldom saw bigger animals then squirrels and rabbits. And of course, east of Buxton lies the fantastic Peak District. A day trip on bicycle to the Peak District was just too far but a weekend into the districts was rewarding.
In this area there are plenty of small towns which are now part of Greater Manchester but which are mostly still breath their own atmosphere. In some places, like Cheadle Hulme it seemed people had left the busy big city behind and took life in their own speed. And you were still never far from home.
On another day I cycled to Altrincham. This southern suburb didn't make me enthusiastic but it seemed to be a popular place to live for those with money. The reason I started to come here regularly was because of the road going out of the city to small towns like Ashley, New Mills, Knutsworth but also to the Tatton deer park.
This huge park host herds of deer. It's a popular weekend spot for the city people. I cam a few times in this area. From the park it was possible to go through small cycling paths all the way to Lymm.
Here life seemed to have a stand still since the middle ages, well... almost then. Old houses and pubs with a relaxed atmosphere in a land that seemed to be in the bones of the people living here. The feel here was so much nicer then the city.
I never went further west then Martinscroft and then went back to Irlam. I remember one day I went further north, mostly open lands but it wasn't as beautiful as the southern areas around Buxton or Knutsworth.
But I did cycle all the way to the northern areas of Greater Manchester and discovered that here too is some to explore.
The towns outside the main city didn't make me excited, Aderton, West Houghton, nice but... it was the old center of Worsley that was fantastic.
As beautiful as many of southern areas of Manchester, the city center and Worsley were, as horrible were some areas in North Manchester.
Even on a bright day, you would feel the desolate feeling of this part of the city.
There would be no way I would ever wanted to live here. But Oldham was again great. An old city center, about 15 km from Manchester City.
The eastern part of Manchester was also not exciting unless you made it all the way to Huddersfield. I've only been once in the town but was impressed by it's old buildings and tranquil atmosphere. It was another city I probably could have lived for a longer time.
A day trip around the city was too much if you would want to go really out of the city. Thus I cycled parts, still easy making 100km per day.
Inside the city it's not always pleasant for a cyclist but outside the city center, you find many good organized cycling paths right through the heart of the nature. You could be as far away from the hectic city and still no further then just a kilometer, or two from civilization and you wouldn't know it.
Although I came to England with the idea to be there for a year, it was what we had said to each other, and I was happy to go back to Asia, where I simply feel more relaxed, I still have many fond memories of my stay in Manchester and not in the last place because of my cycling experiences around the city.
There are literally plenty of other places to visit when you go around on bicycle. But cycling around Manchester is an experience in itself. The only thing that can hold you off taking a bicycle is the weather and yourself.
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