The Fallowfield Loop

Updated News 19th June 2005 - The missing link path has been added at Abbey Hey, the loop has been lengthened with this new path. - Click Here.

Updated information about changes to the Loop near Chorlton added 30th April - Click Here.

I must admit I have had a fascination about this line since I was a young lad. I was brought up in Reddish, a quiet suburb of Stockport, where young lads spent a lot of their time exploring on their BMX's. Anyway some friends had introduced me to the delights of lower Station road, which had a great paper recycling plant and various other places to visit! I was only young! However at the end of Station road - the road changed to a dirt path, underneath which was an old railway. The Fallowfield Loop! My main fascination point, however, was the old Reddish depot. By the time I saw it it was in the mid 80s and already in a heavy derelict stage. However to a young lad it was an amazing place. I wish I had the guts to explore it, sadly I never did. Maybe this was a good thing - god knows what dangers lurked in the rotting hulk of a building.

As I grew older the place still held my imagination, however sometime in the late 80s it was demolished and flattened. The railway line was also taken up around the same time. I was now able to investigate and do some more research in to the line.

In 2002 the line was converted in to a great cycle path and eventually the majority of the loop was open to the public. Before then I had been down on my bike and on foot - but the going was bad due to the heavy nature of the ballast.

As a grown up (I dont think ive grown up yet!) I was now able to explore the old line and use it as a form as recreation.

I'm not a historian and I am grateful for the following books as a point of reference - I have also drawn my own map to go with the descriptive text and pictures, so if you want to get on your bike or walk this route - you can. Enjoy

Book Acknowledgements:

The Fallowfield Line - EM Johnson

Railways in and Around Manchester "The changing Scene" - EM Johnson

Scenes from the past "Woodhead Part One" - EM Johnson

EM Johnson - Thanks for your hard work on your excellent books. Mr Johnson is a font of knowledge and his books have some fantastic pictures. Buy them at your local bookshop.

The Route

The line was a loop , starting from Old Trafford and ending up at Fairfield - it was a handy link from the old Central station to the Sheffield "Woodhead line". Also due to the double spur at Abbey Hey so trains could also head back towards Manchester Piccadilly and up north towards Rochdale.

We started our bike ride at Debdale park (near Fallowfield) - my friend, Duncan, and myself braved a December day (which was very cold). The route is fully tarmaced so is ideal for winter bike rides - no mud and mess! Its also flat, and quiet, so its good for distance and speed.

Part one (below) covers the main cycle and path route the goes from Debdale Park to near Chorlton. For interest the route is approximately 6 miles long, a nice 12 mile round trip.

Part two covers the Northern end of the route running from Debdale Park through Abbey Hey. This is not part of the Fallowfield Loop cycle route. The original railway alignment is mainly filled in, but can still be followed. However not all of the line is pathway, and can be muddy in winter. Still there are points of interest and it is possible to ride some of the old route.

 

Debdale Park - Entrance Via Hyde Road

The link road at the junction of Hyde rd (A57) and Reddish lane (B6167). The link road goes to the new McDonalds, Pub, Fitness First gym and the Holiday Inn Hotel.

Left :- The approach road to Debdale Park. McDonalds is on the left. The small car park for the Debdale park is on the right hand side.

The Debdale Park car park and boating club.

 

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The Path Through Debdale Park - along the old Canal
The path running at the side of the Boating club. We are now on the old Reddish Canal, which was a branch from the Ashton canal, and ran to Stockport. I will cover this route at a later date.
The old route of the canal running through Debdale park. To the right is the lower reservoir. The path here is in good condition.
You can see the Fallowfield Loop line above the bridge (running left to right). The old canal ran under the line just ahead. To get on the loop you need to go under the bridge.
The Path up to the Fallowfield Loop
Just through the bridge the canal continues ahead (we will cover this route - watch this space). To the right is the path up to the Fallowfield Loop.
Just one of the many excellent sign posts on the route. As you can see we are going to follow the sign for Fallowfield. To the right is the route of the old canal. Part of the reason the Fallowfield Loop was made in to a cycle and pathway was because of the Commonwealth Games. The Ashton canal runs right past the Sports Stadium (now home to Manchester City), and the council were keen to promote alternative ways of getting to the venues. Hence the improvement of the local cycle and path ways. The legacy of the games is still here. The Ashton canal, running in to the center of Manchester, is paved from the stadium onwards, and is a great route to take. We will look at this route soon.
Looking up to the start of the Loop. Notice the barriers which are all along the route. These are to stop cars entering.

Looking down from the start of the loop to the old canal. To the right will take you to the Ashton canal, the the left back through the bridge to Hyde road and Debdale park.

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Crossing Hyde Road:

This is a picture taken from the bridge looking down on hyde road (Gorton is in the distance) This was the spot of Hyde Road station. You can see some of the original wall on the right hand side of the picture. There is nothing left of the station - just an overgrown wasteland. This piece of land has been in that state for a longtime.

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Ryder Brow (Gorton) Entrance at Ryderbrow Road
The entrance at Ryderbrow road. An approach ramp was built to make it easy to get on the route.

Another shot showing the path towards Debdale park and the entrance to Ryderbrow road. Notice the new fences built on either side of the bridge across the road.

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Reddish Depot (crossing the Man-Sheffield (Hope) railway line:

To the right and left you can see the new fencing that has been put up over the bridge - there is also new green fencing to the right. The loop continues in the distance, but on the right hand saw is the now overgrown wasteland that used to be Reddish Depot. There is virtually no evidence left of this building. The building was sleek and modern and built to service the state of the art Woodhead electric locomotives - however there were 1500dc and not the soon to be popular 25kv, which was taken up nationwide. The whole route was out of date as soon as it was built.

The site of the depot is a mess of weeds, rubbish, concrete and other waste. When they filled the fairfield cuttings, the waste wagons came on from this route - a lot of waste is also strewn across the site of the old depot. Maybe in summer I will try and get some shots. Its not very nice!

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Original 1500dc Catenary - Just Outside Reddish Depot

Not the best shot - but this shows one of the supports that formed the bottom of the catenary. This was just outside the Reddish depot. There isn't a lot of original infrastructure left on the line, so its nice to see some of it.

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Station Road / Sandford Lane

This shows the alignment of the line towards Fallowfield. To the right there was a further bridge which was used as part of the depot head shunt. This has been filled in.

Many a young train spotter parked their bikes on this bridge to watch the goings on below.

I took this picture in 1995 as part of my A Level Geography course. I was looking at the Reddish development scheme.

This was taken from the bridge at Station road. I am looking towards Debdale park. As you can see there are tipper trucks heading towards Abbey Hey. There were in the process of filling the cutting there.

To the left was the site of the Reddish Depot. The site was completely flattened in the late 80s.

Just under the Station road bridge is the way on. To the left is Sandfold lane (which is unpaved). The path back towards Station road (on the right) is also unpaved and very muddy in winter.

 

The sign at Station road. Notice how each sign on the route has been personalised with its location.

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Longford Road (Reddish / Levenshulme Border) Entrance
The exit off to Longford road. To the left the road takes you up in to Reddish. To the right towards Levenshulme and the A6.

One of the 2 signs at Longford road.

The 2nd sign.

Taken from Longford road. The entrance to the route. It looks like the fence needs painting. The loop runs from right to left. It also marks the border between Reddish (in Stockport) and Levenshulme (in Manchester).

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Nelstrop Road (Reddish / Levenshulme Border) Entrance
The way on via Nelstop road, running from left to right. At the top if you turn right that will take you back towards Longford road, to the left takes you to Highfield Park and through to Heaton Chapel.

The sign at Nelstrop road.

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Highfield Road (Levenshulme) Entrance
The bridge over the old loop running from Highfield road. Note how the original cut is under water! There seems to be a spring nearby that is running in to this spot and making it constantly underwater. Luckily the route runs around this.

Just opposite the bridge is the way on to Highfield Park - The path takes you through the park towards Heaton Chapel.

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The A6 entrance at Levenshulme (The Old Levenshulme Station site)

There has been a lot of filling in this area, originally there were 2 long platforms and 2 large shelters. The path has been raised so you can cross from left to right (and use it as a walk through).

You can still see the original openings for the stairs (the different coloured brickwork) The station buildings along the line are all very similar, they are quite grand for a suburban railway.

The way on via the A6, which runs across from left to right. This is the site of Levenshulme station. You can see the original building on the left of the picture. The cutting has been filled in at this point, to allow easier access.

The road on the right is Crayfield road. This will take you to the A6.

To the left of Levenshulme station is Kershaw road. There is now access across the route to Crayfield road (above)

This is a national cycle network sign at Levenshulme station.

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Looking back to Levenshulme Station

Looking back to the station - you can see the bike path raise up (where I took the other picture)

Just behind me is the small tunnel underneath the Manchester to Stockport line.

 

Just past Levenshulme station the route goes under the Manchester to Styal (Manchester Airport) main railway line. The route goes under a substantial tunnel and bridge (at the opposite end).

Errwood Road is just through the tunnel to the left.

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Errwood Road (Burnage / Levenshulme Border) Entrance
The way on to Errwood Road.

The sign at Errwood road.

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Slade Lane (Burnage) Entrance

The entrance at Slade lane. Notice the earth works that was undertaken to create easy access to the loop.

The bridge has been recently renovated. Note the new railings on the bridge. The original brickwork was removed.

A rather dark picture of the sign the Slade lane.

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Kingsway (Burnage) Entrance
Taken from Kings Way. The line runs from the left to the right of the picture. Bikers and pedestrians are well catered for. There are lights to enable you to cross the busy road.
The path down to the loop from kings way. Notice the green sign post. The Styal / Manchester airport / Manchester line runs overhead.
The way off the loop up towards Kingsway.

The detailed sign at the kingsway entrance.

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Ladybarn Ln (Fallowfield) - Back of the Sainburys Car Park

This is looking back towards Kingsway, taken from the back of Sainburys car park.

Ladybarn lane runs from left to right over the loop.

The entrance up to Ladybarn Lane - the loop runs to the right hand side of the picture.

Notice how good the path is - both pedestrians and cyclists have been catered for.

You can see the line to the far left of the picture. To the right was the goods yard at Fallowfield station.

This is now a car park for the new Sainsburys that was recently built.

The bike route has been well catered for - it runs hard to the right of the picture and has provision for walkers and bikers.

Site of the original station - The Sainsburys building has been tastefully joined with the original building, which is now a bar!

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Crossing Wilmslow Road at Fallowfield - Across to Sherwood Street

This part of the route involves crossing the busy "Wilmslow Road" at Fallowfield. The original railway alignment has been filled in and built on. Part of the main station is left, however it is now in use as a bar. The old goods yard is now Sainburys car park. Nothing is left of the railway bridge that passed under Wilbraham road.

I am pleased to see cyclists and walkers have been well catered for. As the picture shows there is adequate crossings and provisions for getting across the road safely. However it is still a busy junction - so please take care.

Looking across Wilbraham road - I tried to get a picture when there were no cars, but it was very busy - and this was on a Sunday. You can see the clear crossing and green cycle path on Sherwood st. The original railway line ran on the left of the picture. The cutting has been built on with student accommodation.

It is easy to get back on the route. Once you have crossed Wilbraham road, just follow Sherwood St, the original alignment is to your left. At the bottom of Sherwood St you will pick up the route again. (see below)

The entrance on Sherwood st. The alignment has been filled, but you can see how a ramp was built for walkers and cyclists.

The route goes under Wellington road just to the right of the picture.

Looking up Sherwood street, back to Fallowfield and Wilmslow road. This road is quite quiet. But do keep an eye out for cars coming out of the side roads.

The sign at Sherwood street.

 

The bridge over Wellington Road.

Looking back along the original alignment towards Wilmslow Road at Fallowfield. You can see the high level of filling at this stage, but the line of tress clearly marks the route. I have a great picture of this part of the route in its heyday, where a Steam train has just left Fallowfield Station heading to this spot.

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Yew Tree Road
The entrance to Yew Tree road via Avian Drive. Yew Tree road will take you to Wilbraham road, which runs parallel with the route at this stage.

The sign at Yew Tree Road.

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Athol Street - just before the original site of Wilbraham Road Railway Station
The entrance at the bottom at Athol Street. This was the site of the original Wilbraham Road railway station. The platform ran from left to right. There used to be a signal box here, but there is no sign of its original location.
The sign at Athol street - it looks like the circular place marker is missing from the top of it.

This was the site of the Wilbraham road station. A similar structure to Levenshulme was here. There are some brickworks left, but nothing of real interest.

Athol street entrance is just behind on the right hand side.

We are looking down towards Chorlton. Alexandra Road South runs on the bridge above.

One of the clues that there was a station on this site. This looks like the foundation for the original platform.

 

One of the original signal control boxes around the Athol street area. An interesting piece of infrastructure that is still left on the route.

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Updated Picture - April 2005

Alexandra Road South. I think there used to be an entrance here, however as you can see it has been levelled off and a fence put up to stop access.

For more new information - please scroll down.

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Whithington Road

Looking back towards Fallowfield. Whithington Road runs from left to right. Notice another example of the excellent access to the route. This area is well landscaped.

 

Chelsfield Grove - Presently the last way on and off the loop at the Chorlton end

This is presently the last way on and off the loop. Originally the loop finished at St Werburghs road near Chorlton, however due to a mix up about land ownership, the path was taken up and removed.

This entrance goes through the new estate on to Chelsfield Grove. The grove then leads on to Whithington Road, so you can take the road route to Chorlton.

Further pictures show the new proposed entrance at Chorlton, as yet this isn't actually open.

Updated April 2005

Recent work has been undertaken at this end of the loop. I have added new pictures showing the latest changes.

The sign at Chelsfield Grove.

Updated Picture - April 2005

The orginal path ran on the right of the picture, due a dispute over land ownership, this was closed. A new pathway was built along the old railway line. It has now been fully tarmaced.

This is the end of the bike path. The original bike path ran on the right hand side, on to St Werburghs Rd.

There has been recent works to move the path under the bridge (where Duncan is riding under) and for it to come out around Clovelly Rd. (you can see the ramp on the left hand side) The path is ready for tarmac.

 

Updated Picture - April 2005

The new fully tarmacced path.

 

The planned entrance at Clovelly Road. You can see the ramp up to the road. However the fence is still in place, and you cant get on to the road.

I am not sure when this entrance will be officially open.

A longer shot of the same entrance. You can see the original alignment to the right of the picture this continues on through to Chorlton cum Hardy and then Old Trafford.

I dont know the state of this route, it looks muddy and heavy going. I also don't know if the route is actual passable on foot or bike.

I hope some day they decide to continue the route in to Chorlton, as there are a good selection of shops and amenities there.

Updated Picture - April 2005

The (unofficial) start of the loop. This is at the bottom of Clovelley road. As you can see the fence has been folded back. I kdont know by who, but at least there is acces at this point.

Updated Picture - April 2005

A closer look at where the fence has been pulled back.

Updated Picture - April 2005

Looking towards Chorlton. It looks like my prediction about the line running to Chorlton in the future, wasnt correct.

A large mound of earth is blocking this route.

This shot has been taken with my back towards Chorlton. It is looking down the line towards Stockport via Didsbury This section is planned to be used for the Metrolink extension - but this is presently on hold. I hope to get some pictures from this route - but in winter the path is hard to pass by bike and foot. There is an unofficial path, but it is very muddy and overgrown. The path does open up around Didsbury to Parrs Wood.

The original line was part of the Midlands main route to London St Pancras. It ran through Didsbury, Heaton Moor, Cheadle and the Peak District on its was to London. At Heaton Moor the line split and one route went towards Warrington, the other Bredbury via Stockport Tiviot Dale. I have some pictures of this station as it is now, see the link.

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Well that concludes the visual and descriptive trip along the Fallowfield Loop - I hope you have found it interesting. There are other sites showing some excellent pictures of the route in various states. There is also a small society "The Friends of the Fallowfield Loop" that are actively looking after the route. Have a look a my Links page for more information about these sites.

In my view its a shame that this railway line was closed and left derelict for so long. We have seen how successful the Metrolink has been, if this line had been left open, it would have easily been converted for Metrolink. This line and the route off to Stockport goes through some of the main suburbs of Manchester where congestion is a big issue. There seemed to be a lack of fore site back in the 60s when this line was closed.

On the plus side the route has been converted in to a great resource for locals and visitors alike. Its a well implemented cycle and walk way, which is well signposted and great to use in all weathers. Thank god the line was not lost forever under buildings and shops.

I hope our main aim of opening this route to new users has been fulfilled. Take a walk or a bike ride down the route and see for your self.

Have a look, enjoy and take care.

Jon

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