Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal

The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal is a green pathway winding through the urban landscape of north Manchester.

Footbridge at Prestolee, Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Footbridge at Prestolee, Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal

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It was derelict for many years, but has been partly restored by dedicated local volunteers, led by the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society.

The best-preserved section of canal is around Prestolee and Nob End, where the towpath is a quiet walking route away from the bustle of Bury and Bolton's town centres. The undisturbed waters here also provide good fishing.

The canal’s original structures give a fascinating glimpse into its industrial heritage. Most striking is the iconic Grade II-listed Mount Sion steam crane, a dramatic cast-iron structure with its original pistons and winding gear intact.

The history

The Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal originally ran north from Salford, on the River Irwell near Manchester, to Prestolee, near the village of Little Lever. Here it split into two: the main line continued to Bury, while a branch headed north-west to Bolton. Now derelict, the canal is under active restoration.

As a green corridor through the sprawl of north Manchester, the restored canal promises to offer rewarding boating and good walking. The obstacles are many - infilled sections of the canal bed, demolished locks, and disparate ownership of the line - but plans are being formulated with a view to complete restoration of the canal within the next few years.