A discovery walk round Castlefield Basin

My Monday walk this week was one of those impromptu ‘while I’m here I may as well look round over there’ walks. That being so, aside from seeing a couple of photos on Instagram I hadn’t previously researched the area I went to, nor did I photograph things which I now know could be of interest but I can, and probably will, go back there another time.
Castlefield is an inner city conservation area in Manchester and within its boundaries lies Castlefield Basin where the Rochdale Canal and Bridgewater Canal meet. Although many of the area’s old warehouses from long ago have disappeared over the years most of the remaining ones have been restored and renovated to be converted into modern apartments and offices alongside high quality new developments, an outdoor waterside arena for live music and several bars and eateries, making Castlefield Basin a very pleasant and popular place.
My walk started on Deansgate where the Rochdale Canal disappears under the road for a short distance and a railway line runs overhead. At the far side of the viaduct was a tall and very narrow building, empty and derelict for many years but once part of a sawmill possibly dating from the second half of the nineteenth century. A pleasant offshoot from the cobbled Castle Street ended in a large parking area at the side of the Bridgewater Canal then steps on the right took me back up to the road.
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Passing the large and now converted canalside Merchants’ Warehouse on my left and the beer garden of Dukes bar on the right the road took me to Lock 92 on the Rochdale Canal, where the canal itself joins the canal basin. At the far side was the attractive lock keeper’s cottage with its pretty garden though looking down the canal I couldn’t miss what must currently be Manchester’s ugliest building, the Beetham Tower, a 47-storey mixed-use skyscraper on Deansgate.
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Past the cottage the road took me under three viaducts to a dead-end offshoot of the Bridgewater Canal with its narrowboat moorings next to Castlefield Bowl, the outdoor music and events arena. Heading back to the canal basin along the towpath I took a couple of shots under the bridges before emerging at Catalan Square with its tapas bar and attractive outdoor dining area complete with floral planters.
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Narrowboat moorings at Castlefield Bowl
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Staying on the towpath would have taken me back past the lock keeper’s cottage so I went up the steps to Catalan Square and crossed the modern Merchant’s Bridge running above the junction of the two canals to the area of Slate Wharf. With a span of 40 metres the 3-metre wide deck is hung from the steel arches by 13 hangers, and with no underneath supports it has a bit of a bouncy feel to it when walking across. Taking photos from the middle of the bridge when other people were walking across it needed a steady hand and a lot of patience to avoid blurry shots.
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The Bridgewater Canal from Catalan Square
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Potato Wharf from Merchant’s Bridge, with a freight train passing overhead
At the far side of the bridge was the pleasant open area of Castlefield Green with several narrowboats moored alongside and The Wharf pub/restaurant with its outdoor seating area. At the head of a small former wharf by a bend in the canal was the restored Middle Warehouse, now converted into offices, apartments and a restaurant and also the home of Hits Radio, formerly Key 103 and previous to that Piccadilly Radio.
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Past the front of Middle Warehouse a small footbridge took me back onto the canal towpath and if I ignored the ongoing development of multi-storey apartments and 2-bedroom duplexes of Castle Wharf on my right it was a very pleasant walk until I eventually emerged onto the main road not far from where I started.
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Never having been to that area before I didn’t know what to expect but I was very pleasantly surprised by how nice it is. Having now found out a lot more about the place a return is definitely on my list and hopefully there’ll be a lot more photo opportunities waiting for me when I do go back.

21 thoughts on “A discovery walk round Castlefield Basin

  1. Nice write up Eunice. It is very nice around there when the sun is shining! Amazing to see 7 baby swans – the swans in New Islington Marina only ever have a maximum of 3. I wrote a couple of blogs that started in the area when we were locked down and I wasn’t allowed out of Manchester. They’re numbers 1 and 3 in my series here:
    https://5000milewalk.co.uk/category/canals

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    1. Thanks for the compliment Paul. I read your blog posts at the time and went back to the first one for reference as I was writing this.

      I was also lucky enough to see – but not on the same day – the Castlefield goslings making their way from a side street near the station across to the canal. Two adult geese, seven or eight fluffy yellow babies and a couple of slightly older ones – how on earth they don’t get squashed crossing the road I don’t know but apparently traffic does stop for them. There’s a short video clip on the ‘net of a builder carrying one across the road which had been left behind. I was going to include them in this post but I think they deserve one of their own 🙂

      I was back in Manchester again yesterday on the hunt for some Loony Tunes characters which are currently being painted in various places – to say I don’t ‘do’ cities I’ve been there so many times since early March I’m beginning to gain quite an affinity for the place 🙂

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    1. I was quite surprised at how nice the area is considering it was all once very industrial, definitely somewhere to go back to. The cygnets were really cute too 🙂

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  2. I’m amazed at all the lovely things you find to photograph in and around Manchester. Aww those seven little cygnets, how cute are they 🙂

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  3. For an impromptu walk it turned out to be a really nice place and somewhere I’ll certainly go back to. I won’t need to walk miles through the city centre to get to it either as there’s a station on the Piccadilly line just across the main road so I can get the train direct from here. If you think the cygnets are cute wait until you see the goslings 🙂

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  4. It certainly can. It was so quiet and peaceful round there that it seemed a world away from the noise of the city yet it was still so close. I’m just now researching some other interesting parts of the area for when I make a return.

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  5. Catching up on your Manchester adventures. Great photos.
    There are so many areas of interest. That website Paul recommended is full of ideas and information.
    Hope you have a season rail ticket to Manchester.

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  6. It’s easier and cheaper to go by train than it is to drive there. I only did that once, taking someone to Chorlton Street bus station, and though I got there okay getting back was a nightmare – so many one way streets and others blocked off for building work. It only took me 20 minutes to get there but almost an hour getting back so never again, it’s the train every time 🙂

    I’ve just been reading back over some of Paul’s blog for ideas for a future canal walk but I’ll check out more of Castlefield first as I was really impressed with it this time.

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  7. Well apart from the fact that it’s my son’s first name I don’t know who Sean is either 🙂 🙂 I presume you’re using predictive text? I don’t use it on my phone as I hate it but it’s on my tablet and it’s a dratted nuisance – other than posting photos I can manage my blog from anywhere but it takes me ages to write a comment as the predictive text is such a pain 😦

    I don’t know if the swans and cygnets live permanently at Castlefield or if they travel – if they stay at Castlefield then they should be reasonably safe in such a quiet area but then you never know what’s lurking under the water. It was lovely to see this little family though and I hope they all grow up big and strong 🙂

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  8. Leeds has had similar development along the canal, people seem to like canal-side living and lots of bars and restaurants have popped up, it seems to be quite trendy. You could easily forget you’re in the middle of a large city.

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  9. Canal side living does seem to be very popular but I can imagine new properties would also be quite expensive. I would quite like to live alongside a canal myself but not in a city. Castlefield is lovely and quiet and I was quite impressed with it but it’s still in a city, I would rather be out in the country. I know someone who lives in a quiet cul-de-sac just outside Garstang, his garden backs onto the Lancaster Canal with a gate straight onto the towpath – that would just do for me 🙂

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  10. This was a lovely walk, nicer than I expected with it being in an urban setting. I still miss my little canal boat too even though we never actually got it on the water – it was a good project though while it lasted.

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  11. That looks a lovely walk , I like canal walks as they are flat. Haha. I have seen geese taking their gosling’s over the road in that area before, it’s quite scary, but they must be used to it. The cygnet photos are adorable. I have been for cocktails up that tower, a bar restaurant called Cloud 23 on the twenty third floor of course. Was good! X

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  12. I like canal walks too for the same reason, the only trouble is they usually only have a towpath on one side so I have to do a there-and-back walk where I prefer my walks to be circular. Castlefield Basin did turn out to be circular though and I was quite surprised at how nice it is there. The first 22 floors of the Beetham Tower are the Hilton hotel, floor 23 is Cloud 23 and 25 to 47 are private apartments. I don’t know what happened to floor 24, maybe it’s the cleaner’s cupboard or something 🙂 🙂

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