Cheshire Ring Vol 1 Review

IF YOU want something doing properly sometimes you just have to do it yourself! When Sally Bailey found there was no book detailing walks on the Cheshire ring she set about writing one. The Cheshire Ring in Circular Canal-Side Walks, the first of two planned volumes, contains 23 walks of differing lengths with a mix of sections along towpaths, roads and tracks. At the start of each walk the author provides distance, approximate time and even parking suggestions for those arriving by car.
    An initial introduction sets the scene on the history of the canals and the Cheshire salt industry and after each walk the author provides a few pertinent details on local places of interest and suggestions of pubs or eateries for a well-earned break.
    Walks cover both the Trent & Mersey and Bridgewater canals, highlighting features like the Anderton Boat Lift, chandleries, marinas, lock numbers and the submerged wrecks of boats, making it very much a canal enthusiast’s companion. 
    The first walk is from Castlefield to Salford Quays and back, a bold choice as this is a landscape steeped in waterways history but lacking in tranquil pastoral features which for many are the purpose of walking.
    Having undertaken sections of this myself I can verify that the book provides a clear guide with an easy-to-follow map (and OS grid reference for those who want more detail) so you are unlikely to find yourself lost and wandering around the less salubrious parts of Manchester!
    Later walks; including the Runcorn Branch of the Bridgewater, a bluebell wood in the shade of the Dutton viaduct and the Hall Green Branch of the Trent & Mersey, afford the chance to explore the ring from north to south.
    The author has done well to include so much practical information (busy roads and overhung towpaths) in this slim volume. Sadly the photographs she has taken to accompany the walks have suffered from poor reproduction, leaving many far too dark. It could be argued that this
is less problematic in a practical guide, as opposed to a coffee table book, and if you are undertaking the walks you will be able to see – and photograph-these sights for yourself. With spring approaching, this publication affords the perfect excuse to get out and pound the towpaths,
immerse yourself in waterways history and burn off a bit of the seasonal over-indulgence!
    The Cheshire Ring in Circular Canal-Side Walks by Sally Bailey is published by Sigma Leisure, 175 pages, and available in paperback from www.sigmapress.co.uk.