A Virtual Stroll Along the Mickle Trafford-Shotton Railway

canalA lovely spot where the old railway crosses the Shropshire Union Canal.

We are looking south and the backs of the modern houses in Cranleigh Crescent are on the right.

The residents here were deeply upset at the prospect of the construction of a bus turning circle, exit gate and access path on the pleasant grassy area in the middle of their small estate- one of the few local green places designated for children to play on- and their objections resulted in the local access to Sustrans' cycletrack and footpath being moved further down the line to Saughall Road, where radical preparatory clearance of trees and undergrowth commenced in February 1999.

The location of any future Busway access is another matter, and these residents may still be in for a nasty shock when the time arrives for the CDTS to be bulldozed through.

If we were to follow the towpath below, we would shortly arrive at Tower Wharf, a fascinating corner of the local canal system, which is currently undergoing a major redevelopment by British Waterways. Also located there is Chester's best live music and arts venue, the excellent Telford's Warehouse.

A link between the canal towpath with the old railway would be simple to construct and would greatly increase its value as a commuter route.

That said, British Waterways for long had a poor record regarding their attitude to cyclists and walkers, the towpath through the city centre only recently having been resurfaced- at least as far as Tower Wharf- after years of resident's complaints.

Here is the same scene photographed in August 2000.

British Waterway's attitude to towpath users has improved greatly of recent times and as a result great improvements have taken place. For example, notice the widened and resurfaced cycletrack now running alongside the canal in our picture.

Further towpath upgrades are also currently taking place elsewhere in the Chester area.

Just out of shot on the left is a newly-constructed ramp to allow convenient access to the SUSTRANS cycletrack on the old Mickle Trafford railway.

Further along the canal, a formerly filled-in basin has been excavated and restored and a new swing bridge has been installed at its mouth to allow walkers and cyclists to gain access to the Tower Wharf area.

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