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Worsley and the Bridgewater Canal
submitted by Carl Newman from Worsley

Parking: Car Park on B5211, opposite Worsley Court House approximately 50 metres from the roundabout which leads on to the M62 - junction 13 (grid reference 747004)
See map of starting point
Directions: Get road directions to the parking place here (nearest available location by postcode: M28 2PB)
Map: Ordnance Survey - Landranger 109 (Manchester, Bolton & Warrington)
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See map of walk area
Distance: 3¼ miles (5.2 km)
Grade: 1-A


Worsley Court House

Leave the car park and cross over the B5211 slightly diagonally right, keep straight ahead following a sign for "Green Man" which leads down on to the canal. The path heads between the Iron Inn on the right and the Bridgewater Dental surgery on the left. Boards have been placed all around this walk, which inform people all about Worsley heritage.

The canal here was a lifeline for the Bridgewater works yard and is situated on what is now Worsley Green. Tugs and barges carried materials to and from the yard, which was the workshop and supply base of Worsley mining, canal cutting and boat building industries. The small boathouse some way in front of the board (number 2), were built by Lord Ellesmere the Duke of Bridgewater's great nephew to house a royal barge. Lord Ellesmere had a barge specifically built for Queen Victoria's trip along the canal during her visit to Worsley in 1851. The barge was pulled by two grey horses, one of which became so perturbed by the cheering crowds that it jumped in to the canal.

The Packet House behind was built in the late 18th century as a number of separate dwellings and the mock Tudor frontage was added in about 1845 under the influence of the Earl of Ellesmere whose desire to beautify Worsley resulted in many of the black and white buildings in the village today. From the stone steps in front of the packet house travellers were collected by the Duke of Bridgewater's Packet boat for journeys to Manchester, Warrington and Runcorn. Passenger travel by canal was popular from the 1760's to the mid 1800's when steam railways replaced it as a much more rapid form of transport. Passenger trips from the boat steps still run today.

Across the footbridge on an island between two canal basins is perhaps Worsley's oldest building and predates the Bridgewater canal, hence its position on the island. The footbridge was known by the pupils of St Marks School as the ABC footbridge, as it comprised of 26 steps and 26 planks in the boardwalk.

View from the footbrodge

Continue on past the information board and the City of Salford black lamppost and cross over the wooden footbridge which leads down to the aforementioned island. The waters of the canal are normally stained bright orange around this section of the walk by the iron deposits from the coalmines. About twenty metres further take the right fork where the path splits, and continue past the white house out on to Worsley Road. Carefully cross the road heading for the white Mill House (number 6 Worsley Road), then take the first left signposted Worsley Woods, Tyldesley Loopline. The road climbs slowly uphill, bends around to the left and flattens as it passes to the right of four white cottages. The road ends and the path leads in to the woods.

Old Warke Dam

Half-timbered house

The path continues straight on, ignoring the steps that lead down to the left after about two hundred metres. Shortly after that there is a viewpoint on the left over Old Warke Dam. The lodge was built by damming Kempnough Brook to enable the Duke to fish. The path continues along between the metal fence on the left and the wooden fence on the right, with houses behind. The path passes around the far end of the water and meets a half-timbered house. Just in front of the house there is a crossroad of paths, go down the right-hand side of the white timbered house. Continue on the path across which appears a wooden fence with two ways through it. Go through the fence and continue ahead, then down some wooden steps that meet another path. Turn right on to this path ignoring the steps which go up opposite. This path is now the old disused railway line. Go through a short tunnel underneath Worsley Road where a sign reads "Monton Green 1.3km" and continue on down the tree lined path.

Platform of Worsley Station

About 75 metres past the bridge the path splits with a cobbled path heading off to the left, ignore this and continue on. Just past here, there is a sign for Worsley Station, and the concrete structures at both sides of the path here are the edges of the old platform.

The line here helped to establish the link between the Manchester to Liverpool main line, and the west-coast route that connected London to Glasgow. In 1870, a branch line, the Rowe Green loopline was opened to Bolton via Little Hulton to serve the surrounding collieries. The lines were managed by several companies before closure in the 1960's. Rowe Green line closed in October 1969. The former railway line along which the Tyldesley Loopline now extends was opened in 1864 and stretched from Eccles to Wigan. Continue past the station along the flat former railway line. The railway line follows along the top of an embankment, from which fields can be seen to the right and a little further on a golf course on the right. Follow the straight path for about a kilometre to Monton, where a metal gate crosses the path. At the gate there is a sign pointing back in the direction of the station stating "Little Hulton 5.9km and Ellenbrook 4.7km". Pass through the gate and go down onto the road.

Path down to the towpath

Turn right and go along the road, past Dukes Drive and over the green metal bridge passing over the canal. Immediately over the bridge, turn right down on to the path that leads down to the canal towpath. The towpath along the canal leads now all the way back to the start of the walk. After a few hundred metres the canal bends around to the left, go through a wooden gate and continue along the towpath past where many canal barges are often moored.

Worsley Dry Docks

The Packet House and footbridge

The canal now meanders a little and on the other side of the canal can be seen the Worsley Dry Docks with a black and white painted roof. Continue on underneath a green metal bridge and past the toilets, with the footbridge that was walked over at the start of the walk now directly ahead. The canal bends around to the left and under another green metal bridge (Worsley bridge). Immediately on passing under the bridge, take the flight of steps up the side of the bridge back on to the B5211. Turn left on the road heading towards the roundabout and turn first left back into the car park.

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