For the first time, cyclists can now travel along a 20-mile stretch of the Bridgewater Way from Wigan to Manchester after more than £200,000 has been invested into the towpath, in Astley, locally known as the ‘Muddy Mile’.
The transformation of the Muddy Mile has bridged the missing link and is the first scheme to complete as part of Greater Manchester’s ‘Bee Network’, a plan to create the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.
The official opening in July was a highlight of the year for the canal and was attended by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman, and Director of Land and Planning at Peel L&P, Louise Morrissey.
Peter Parkinson, General Manager of the Bridgewater Canal, said: “Through partnering with Wigan Council, it’s fantastic that the community can now fully utilise the Bridgewater Way whether it’s walking or cycling from Wigan through Leigh and across the Salford boundary to Worsley, Monton and Patricroft.”
This summer also saw a unique spectacle on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal to celebrate its 258th anniversary. Award-winning theatre makers from Brazil and the UK hosted a three-day ‘Precarious Carnaval’ along the Salford stretch of the canal.
The colourful and vibrant event paid homage to the canal’s rich history featuring performances, parties and personal stories.
Peter added: “The organisers spent a month living on the canal getting to know its landscape and the people who use it. It was quite amazing that a group of artists would travel all the way from Brazil to celebrate our canal. It was a tremendous success with almost 1,000 people attending.”
The Bridgewater Canal’s appeal as a leisure waterway continues to burgeon with demand for moorings in Castlefield growing. Following years of negotiations, a canal side developer has agreed to gift land in Potato Wharf to the Bridgewater Canal Company, who plan to open two further mooring areas which will eventually enable an additional 22 boats to moor at the popular location.
As the numbers of cyclists and those enjoying the canal and its towpath continues to grow, so does the responsibility to keep its users safe.
The Bridgewater Canal is a member of the Manchester Water Safety Partnership and in December last year co-funded a RoSPA report to assess the risks of waterways with Manchester City Centre.
The team’s commitment to safety is a year-round effort with the organisation of up to four ‘share the space, drop your pace’ awareness days each year. The initiative launched four years ago has paid off with the number of incidents on the towpath drastically reducing.
Peter adds: “The Bridgewater Canal is beautiful and is well-loved by its users so it’s paramount we keep it a safe, tranquil haven for all and we’re delighted all the hard work is paying off.”