Lake District


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~Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal~

20th November 2021

Manchester Bolton Bury Canal

The Canal

Horseshoe Ringley Stoneclough Memorial


Peter and I were determined to follow up the Clifton and Wet Earth Colliery walk with another exploratory leg stretch in the same area and on this typically dull November day, we parked close to The Horseshoe pub in Ringley. The residents of Ringley and Stoneclough are dismantling their fantastic poppy display for Remembrance Day.

Ringley Bridge

River Irwell at Ringley Bridge

"This incredible poppy waterfall has been draped over Ringley Bridge and was made from over 4,000 plastic bottles that have been cut up and painted by the local community ❤️ taken by Craig Keatley (Flipperkeatz)" as lifted from the My Bolton - Manchester Evening News Facebook Page. Photo taken c.11th November 2021.

Canal Route

Canal Route from Ringley

When you leave the road by the pub and head in a north-westerly direction it is not at all obvious that you are walking the route of the expired canal. There would have been locks at Ringley adjusting the water level in the usual manner. I am not going to repeatedly write the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, I'll work out an abbreviation. Soon enough we reach boards holding back the water and the canal is alive again.

MBB canal Canal in green

So, here is the MBB Canal complete with water and we are heading for Prestolee. I think it's duckweed which has taken control of the water surface.

Kearsley Mill

Kearsley Mill

What a mill! Built in 1905 / 06 as a spinning mill; spinning mills are tall and weaving sheds are single-storey. It is Grade II listed and I would like to know why the top storey appears different to the others....

Nob End


This section of the MBB Canal ends here at Nob End just after Prestolee Aqueduct. We met two riders on horses at the aqueduct and withdrew to allow them to pass and then we reach this basin which is at the foot of the Nob End Locks.

Nob End Locks

Nob End Locks

We gain our first view of Nob End Locks. It is here that the Manchester bit of the canal was raised to meet the Bolton-to-Bury section. We decided to take a look around the woodland and park areas of Moses Gate Country Park and the Nob End Nature Reserve before rejoing our canal adventure.

Prestolee Aqueduct

Prestolee Aqueduct

To reach this vantage point for a view of the aqueduct, we had to descend to cross the Irwell on a footbridge which runs parallel with a utilities bridge carrying water or gas or something. See photo below...

Many bridges Irwell

The Bridges

So the Irwell runs beneath the canal (out of view to the left) and then the ugly utility bridge and finally the attractive footbridge.

Moses Gate Country Park

Woodland in Moses Gate Country Park

This stretch of woodland is between the River Croal and the MBB canal heading towards Bolton. To gain access to the main parkland, we had to cross a road bridge and then enter a pedestrian entrance to the park on the south side of the river.

River Croal Weir


The park has toilets, but they were locked and no advice as to opening hours. No refreshment facilities, but a large car park and large open spaces for everyone to enjoy. Three lakes are all part of the nature reserves and popular with birds. A footbridge links walkers with the woodland we walked through a few minutes previously, but we head up a steep bank and head to Clammerclough.

Croal footbridge

River Croal Footbridge

Another crossing further downstream at a second weir is impassable and to see the public footpath marked on the OS maps is misleading. Yes, it is allowed to cross the river at that point, but no safe way of doing so.

Nissan Figaro enthusiast

Nissan Figaros

There are at least 5 of these cars at this property adjacent to Farnworth Cemetary. They were made in 1991.



Our walk took us through the little village of Clammerclough before the footpath doubles-back into Nob End Nature Reserve for a straight line to the canal locks.

The Meccano Bridge
Warning Sign
The Meccano Bridge

At the foot of the page, I will offer links to more information about the canal and many of its unusual features.

Nob End Locks

The Locks

Up to the right of this photo, you can see the Bolton spur of the canal and soon we will be walking on the Bury towpath in an easterly direction.

MBB Canal MBB Canal

To Bury

Initially dry, but also wide and deep and then after the wooden barricades, the water is back and with much less duckweed.

Molly the Collie

On the Towpath

Along this stretch of the canal, there are a few reservoirs which were presumably to replenish supplies as the locks were used.

Canal Green

Ah, more of the same...

Spoke to soon, ducks don't seem too bothered, but the weed shuts out light to the things that live under the surface and maybe there will be less food for the ducks who will be disappointed when they reach us.

Steam powered crane

Steam-Powered Crane

Apparently this is the only one of its kind left with the boiler in-situ. It is No.3184, not sure who made them; there is another in Burnley without the boiler and maybe the latter-mentioned one wasn't steam-powered, I'll have to go and have a closer look and maybe find another serial number. The "3" on the number could just have been an "8", but that would have been a very high number of cranes.

Canal Walkers

Canal Walkers

We proceed looking for a footpath to turn us back in the direction of Ringley. We have made a table reservtion at The Horseshoe for 1230hrs and without such we might have walked on a bit further along the towpath.

MBB canal bridge Canalside terrace
Canal Bridge
Canalside Terrace

The first house of the terrace offers water for dogs, how's about that!? At the end of the terrace there is a bridge and the footpath which leads down the hill and towards the Irwell. Actually, I'm not sure it's a terrace, it could be 3 x semi-detached residences, I should have paid more attention. We would have certainly liked to continue along to one more bridge and caught up with the disused railway line.

Canal bridge

Our Last Bridge

It's here that we leave the towpath and take the lane behind the houses and down to the Irwell where a footbridge allows for a safe crossing into farmland.

Irwell footbridge

Irwell Footbridge

Once over the footbridge we find an unclear footpath off to the right which leads to Shore Top Farm and two we have two farmers fields to cross before we can be sure of reaching the road down to Ringley. Should that be "two farmer's fields" or "two farmers' fields" or just "two farmers fields"? Two fields, anyway.



Luckily, there were no cows in either of the fields. There were cows in neither of the fields.....

Horseshoe Ringley

Horseshoe Inn, Ringley

Walkers: Peter R., Molly and Me.

Time taken: 3hrs over a distance of about 6 miles

Refreshment Review: This time we started the walk and then booked a table at the pub. All very convenient and again a very enjoyable lunchtime meal in the snug.

Route: Start at The Horseshoe, follow the permissive footpath along the disused canal to Prestolee and then cross the Irwell on the aqueduct and follow the woodland path to Moses Gate Country Park. Down the road a short distance to cross the bridge over the Croal and into the parkland to use walkways past the Farnworth Cemetary and then a way up through Clammerclough before taking a footbridge over the Croal into Nob End Nature Reserve. Up the route of the disused locks to join the towapth of the Bury leg of the MBB Canal. A few bridges later, near Sunny Bank Mill, the route goes down to the Irwell, across and up through the farmland to Shore Top Farm and then a bit of the A667 down to Ringley.

Weather and conditions: Dull, dry.

Other reading: The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society

Nearly All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2021 ©

Take me back to the start ....

Take me home....