Altrincham to Stockport via Sale Waterpark 14 miles
Altrincham to Sale Water Park 6 miles
The next section of the canal is built up on either side. The Metro is frequently visible on the opposite bank between Timperley and Sale.
After you walk under the Manchester Outer Ring Road M60 you will see the Mersey flow under the Bridgewater Canal stay on the canal path. Further on you will come to several canal crossings. Do not take the Trans Pennine route 62 take the first crossing which will take you back to the River Mersey on the opposite side of the Bridgewater canal. Do not cross the Mersey turn left and continue on towards Stockport.
Sale Lake was created in 1972 by the excavation of 35 acres of gravel, to a depth of 30 metres to create the foundations for the adjacent M60 (formerly M63) motorway, which opened in 1974. Today, the Water Park, which opened in 1980, occupies some 45 acres and provides facilities for fishing, birdwatching, water-skiing and other watersports.
Sale Water Park to Stockport 8 miles
The only pub we found on the riverbank between Stockport and Sale is Jackson’s Boat. At the end of the 18th century a local farmer named Jackson regularly ferried people across the river by boat, charging them a small fee. In 1814 the land came up for sale as ‘Jackson’s of the Boat’. The ferry was made redundant in 1816 when a wooden footbridge was built over the river and a halfpenny toll charged to cross it on foot or one penny with a bicycle. For many years the pub was known as the Bridge Inn. This bridge was washed away in a storm and was rebuilt in 1881 as an iron girder bridge which still stands today.
The riverbanks are raised along this section with concrete and rock levees to help protect the surrounding area against flooding. There are golf courses on the opposite bank which seem to go on for miles! Walk along several loops (oxbows) in the river under the M60 twice towards Didsbury. At the end of Ford Lane in Didsbury is Simon’s Bridge. This iron structure was built in 1901 and it enabled passage across the river from Didsbury to Northernden.
Walk onwards to Heaton Mersey go under the A34 Kingsway. At the Waterside Hotel and Leisure Park you need to leave the river for a short distance re-joining it after Waterside carpark. The river continues alongside the Mersey Vale Nature Park and under the M60 again.
When you come up from the Mersey path you will see the Mersey Way shopping centre in front of you. Go through the shopping centre to the far end and you will find a wall surrounding a view of the Mersey passing under the Mersey Way shopping centre, outside The Entertainer shop. Thanks to the guy at the British Heart Foundation shop who could tell us where the river source is. Stockport does not seem to celebrate its location as the source of the River Mersey.
Carry on up the road to the traffic lights and turn left, behind the back of Sainsbury’s supermarket. Cross the road and you will see an inlet in the black metal fence. You can clearly see the confluence of the Rivers Goyt and Tame. Surrounded by concrete it is an auspicious start for such an iconic river. At the far side of this inlet is a wrought iron sculpture which states “Water is Life and Heaven’s Gift. Here Rivers Goyt and Tame become Mersey. Flowing Clear from Stockport to Sea”.
The Mersey disappears beneath the shopping centre almost immediately and flows onward from whence we came.