24 May 2018 by Guest blogger
May is National Walking Month! So it’s the perfect time to get out for a quick stroll on your lunch break or after work. Find out where staff at Cotswold Outdoor recommend for their favourite urban escapes. And don't forget to submit your urban photos for our photo competition by 31 May 2018 and you could win a stylish Fjallraven rucksack or a gift voucher, thanks to Cotswold Outdoor.
Chorlton to Didsbury: by Victor, Manchester Deansgate
The south of Greater Manchester has excellent urban walking potential due to the Mersey that slithers through the area. The river and the surrounding woodlands attract a lot of birds.
A great walk starts at the Bowling Green pub in Chorlton, going through the Chorlton Ees towards one of the oldest pubs in the area; Jacksons Boat, which has a large outside eating area. I always like seeing wild orchids and the Chorlton Ees and Ivy Green are great for that!
From there you can follow the river to Chorlton waterpark and eventually towards Didsbury and Fletcher Moss, where the RSPB was founded. You have the Old Parsonage in Didsbury at the end of the route.
The Old Parsonage is a Grade II listed building with a great garden and regular exhibitions, surrounded by three great pubs.
The areas south of Chorlton and Didsbury have many walking paths that enable you to make a walk as long or as short as you want. The great thing about this area is that there are a lot of birds that are attracted by the water. I always grab a pair of light Gore-Tex walking shoes such as the Salomon Tibai GTX Low Shoe to keep my feet dry.
Chester canal walk: by Mel, Chester
Whether you have a couple of hours or a whole day to spare, an exploration of a section of the Shropshire Union Canal towpath provides an excellent urban walk in or around the Chester area.
From Chester city centre you can follow the Wirral Line the eight miles to Ellesmere Port, which has good public transport connections back into Chester.
If you’re feeling super-energetic, follow the Chester Canal 20 miles south to Nantwich. On the way, you can stop off and immerse yourself in local history at the 13th century Beeston Castle.
For a more leisurely stroll, stick close to the city centre, with some great views of the city walls and a number of canal side pubs to enjoy a good pint and some food. Telford’s Warehouse, an old Georgian industrial warehouse is a great place to watch passing boats, drink some real ale and listen to local live music. In the opposite direction a stroll out to the Cheshire Cat in Christleton for some good British pub grub makes for a nice Sunday pub walk and is only around 5 miles round trip from the city centre.
The easy accessibility from the city centre makes the canal towpath a great walk that can quickly take you into some more peaceful rural locations. You can witness canal boats and locks in action and experience some fantastic city history.
A personal highlight of mine is the birdlife you find on the way; from mallards, swans, moorhens and cormorants to buzzards soaring over adjacent fields. Blackbirds, robins and sparrows, to name a few, are all getting in the spring mood at the moment and their song can be heard around areas of the city canal paths and the first ducklings of the year can already be seen swimming the canal waters too.
The towpath does make up part of some of the national cycle trails and is a shared pedestrian and cycle path so be mindful of bike traffic as you go.
You won’t need any highly technical kit for this walk, just a good pair of comfortable walking shoes, a small day bag, something like the Osprey Daylite 13L or Osprey Hikelite 18L; with a bottle of water, a few snacks and a good lightweight waterproof tucked inside; around this area you never can guarantee a totally rain free day! Something like the Berghaus Stormcloud or The North Face Paradiso jackets are fantastic options for wet weather protection in such urban environments.
The Big Track Nottingham: by Kate, Nottingham
The Big Track route is one of my favourite walks around Nottingham, especially as I can be on the route within three minutes from my Cotswold Outdoor store in the city centre, making it great for a lunchtime stroll.
The Big Track is a 10 mile car-free route running between Trent Bridge and Beeston Marina along the length of the Nottingham-Beeston canal and parts of the River Trent. It is popular with walkers and cyclists alike.
There is a huge variety of landscapes throughout the route and is an easy way to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre. Compared to some cities the canal side is relatively under- developed and in places you wouldn’t realise how close you were to the city centre.
The route is signposted with Big Track markers so it is easy to know you’re still on the right path (although as long as you stick to the canal/river side path for most the route you can’t go far wrong!)
If you’re a nature lover then you’ll love this walk as the canal and river are home to all sorts of birds and waterfowl such as herons, cormorants and kingfishers.
There are many points with interesting history along the route. You get nice views of Nottingham Castle and Castle Rock at various points along the canal walking towards the city centre from Castle Marina.
Victoria Embankment along the River Trent is a lovely wide green space on the north side of the river between Wilford and Trent Bridge where there is a war memorial and garden area. There are also lots of pubs, cafes and bars close to or on the route itself.
If you head away from the city centre there aren’t really any points to stop for refreshments between Castle Marina and Beeston Marina so I’ll always take a drink with me if I’m heading that way. My bottle of choice is usually my Camelbak Chute Bottle, it’s the perfect size for a shorter day walk.
If I’m planning on a longer walk around the whole circuit then I’d probably take my Osprey Valkyrie rucksack with me. It’s a nice compact size so I can just fit in the essentials like a spare midlayer and lightweight waterproof.
Cotswold Outdoor is our recommended outdoor retailer. As a Ramblers member, every time you buy outdoor clothing, equipment or accessories from either Cotswold Outdoor, Snow+Rock, or Runners Need - not only do you get a 15% discount - but the Ramblers also receive a financial contribution to help protect the places we all love.
If you would like some more ideas for urban walks, check out our Ramblers Routes.