The Ashton Canal – An urban view

About the Canal

The Ashton Canal was built in 1792 to supply coal from Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne to Manchester.   If you were to walk from where the canal begins at Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne to where it ends at the Ducie Street Junction in Manchester you would have walked around six miles.

It links to three other canals:  Peak Forest, Rochdale, and Huddersfield Narrow Canals, the Huddersfield Canal is on our to-do list.

A decent walk

I’ve walked along many parts of the Peak Forest canal with my husband, a walk that when heading away from Ashton towards Derbyshire see’s you gradually leave the urban landscape to increasingly pleasant green and rural views.  In stark contrast, the landscape when heading from Portland Basin towards Manchester is undeniably urban in every direction you look.  On a wet Sunday morning in November, we decided to drive to Portland Basin, park the car up and walk along the canal towards Manchester.  The rain stopped after about 15 minutes and for the rest of the walk it stayed dry.

What is there to see?

In their own way the urban views are fascinating and provide a glimpse into canal life as it was in its heyday.  We walked three miles along the canal.  The first half mile wasn’t as good as it could be, partly because of the amount of litter deposited in the canal, which is something that both annoys and saddens me in equal measure. Having seen this, my expectations for the rest of our walk were not so high.  I’m glad to say we were pleasantly surprised.  With brick built surroundings the surprise to me was how much wider, greener and brighter everything seemed to be once we passed the motorway bridge.  Fields, interesting and quirky canal side properties and a well-maintained canal path make this an increasingly pleasant walk.  There has clearly been some investment in housing that makes it a desirable place to live.

We walked past Fairfield Junction to the Copperas Lane swing bridge before turning and walking the three miles back to Portland Basin.

It really is surprising how peaceful the canal walk is when you consider how close you are to city centre Manchester and its outlying towns.  It’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

Picture gallery

Clicking on any of the pictures below will open a scrollable gallery.