Tree works

Orchard Leader Training

Thursday Jan 12th

Orchard Care Day

The path comes in from Mauldeth Road West, just west of Princess Road where the Princess Hotel and its bowling green were where the flats and its car park are now.

Map of the area from 1995 when the Princess Hotel and its bowling green were where the flats and its car park are now

On 15th December our volunteers cleared this entrance path back to its original width, by cutting the higher growth and scraping up the ivy from the path surface.

Two thirds of passers-by expressed appreciation for what we did, with many shouts of “thank you” and “amazing”.  Only one dissenter and I think that even they went away happy or at least placated.

Without litter picking, much of the path and particularly entrances would become very littered in a fairly short space of time.

Fortunately, there are a good number of volunteers who are happy to do their bit to keep littering on the path to an acceptable level. Some of these volunteers belong to groups such as the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop or Sustrans (who manage the path) or a Scout Group. Others act on a purely individual basis and this is fine too. Everybody is welcome to join in, either on a regular basis, or just as a one-off. The following is intended to help those that want to get involved and are not sure how to make the first steps

Floop Litter Pickers Group

Volunteers litter-picking
Volunteers litter-picking

The Floop Litter Pickers was formed in autumn 2021 partly as a result of the pandemic when it made a lot of sense to split the path into sections and invite people to ‘adopt’ a section. (Prior to this, the only organised litter picking was done by a group meeting once per month and working on a different part of the path each time). To set up the Floop Litter Pickers, a number of volunteers were appointed as ‘Lead volunteers’ and they were provided with some basic equipment largely supplied by Manchester City Council and the Friends. It was left up to each one to decide when and how they would organise their litter picking. Most found others to assist them while others were already part of another group and could call on that group to assist them. The Floop Litter Pickers remain active today and most people seem to agree that based on the state of the path, the present set up is working well.

Probably the easiest way to get involved is to contact your local Lead volunteer.

Floop Litter Pickers – Lead volunteers (Jan 2023)

Start of section Lead volunteer Contact details
St Werburghs Paul Hutton phutton1968@gmail.com 07821 642445
Withington Road Julian Beach (Scouts) julian@trink.co.uk 07973 382980
Princess Road Martin Rathfelder marathfelder@ntlworld.com 07968 703740
Yew Tree Road Cath Dyson dyson_catherine@hotmail.com
Sherwood Street Charles Kinniburgh charles.kinniburgh@gmail.com 07784 793363
Sainsburys Vincent Walsh vincentwalsh@tiscali.co.uk 07588 335781
Lindleywood Road Dick Venes rjvenes@waitrose.com 07749 421254
Slade Lane Pam Flynn pamflynn@cooptel.co.uk 07848 008249
Railway bridge before Quadrants Cerri Horrocks fabricake@rocketmail.com 07980 305760
Railway bridge after Quadrants Helen Nicholson h.nicholson@mmu.ac.uk 07905 095016
Nelstrop Bridleway Charles Kinniburgh charles.kinniburgh@gmail.com 07784 793363
Station Road Daniel Leaman axhn55@gmail.com 07879 657461
Ryderbrow Road/ Dean Road Charles Kinniburgh charles.kinniburgh@gmail.com 07784 793363
Gorton Allotments Ellen Maxwell Ellengmaxwell@yahoo.com 07766 242038
Wright Robinson Paul Billington BillLanc@yahoo.com 07767 057537

They will advise you on how to get hold of equipment (e.g. a litter picker, high viz jacket, gloves) and what to do with the bags of litter once collected. There is a natural turnover of lead volunteers and so we are always looking for new recruits. If you feel you would like to get involved in this way, please contact the co-ordinator: Charles Kinniburgh (charles.kinniburgh@gmail.com) 07784 793363

Volunteers at work near Errwood Road
Volunteers at work near Errwood Road

Schools, Scout Groups, etc

For individuals, joining the Friends is a good way of belonging to a group whose main aim is to ensure the path remains a valued and widely used asset. However, we also wish to encourage local participation in as many ways as possible and therefore would like to encourage other groups such as schools or scount/guide groups to become involved – and litter picking is a good way to do this and it has a valuable educational benefit too. If you want to know more about how groups can get involved, please contact Charles Kinniburgh (charles.kinniburgh@gmail.com) .


There have been no serious accidents or incidents while litter picking but nevertheless a few precautions should be taken:

• Be aware that the path is used by cyclists and therefore try not to switch sides more than you have to and always look before crossing the path

• Pay particular attention to protecting your face especially when reaching into bushes

• Only venture where you are comfortable doing so and have regard for your personal safety (e.g. work in pairs)

• Do not feel obliged to clear everything – fly tips and dangerous items should be left untouched and reported for others to deal with

• Do not leave valuables such as bikes unattended

The positives

There are a surprising number of benefits that you may experience as a result of joining the litter picking family. Here are some:
• a feeling of doing something useful (rather just moaning about it)
• some worthwhile exercise
• enjoyment of being in the fresh air and being surrounded by nature
• a mental health benefit by engaging your mind on ‘other things’

The commitment

There is no commitment ! You can do as much or as little as you like, when you like and how you like. It will all be appreciated.

Blues and Gospel Train

The “Blues and Gospel Train” was staged on May 7, 1964 by Granada TV. 200 fans were instructed to meet at Manchester’s Central Station at 7:30 that evening for a short train ride to the abandoned Wilbraham Road Station in Whalley Range, where a huge platform sign displaying the word ‘Chorltonville’. They had seats on the platform. The opposite platform was decorated with bales of cotton, sacks, crates, broken-down farm equipment, washtubs, wanted posters and even some farm animals.

This was an offshoot of The Blues and Gospel Tour, organized by Granada TV producer Johnnie Hamp and 25-year-old TV director Phil Casson . It is regarded as massively significant in the culture and history of the blues. It was broadcast on 19th August 1964. Hamp had produced a concert on  Sunday 21st October 1962 at the Free Trade Hall which was attended by Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman & Brian Jones and featured  John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and T-Bone Walker.

Muddy Waters: “Blow Wind Blow”
Cousin Joe: “Chicken a la Blues”
Cousin Joe: “Railroad Porter Blues”
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: “Didn’t It Rain”
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: “Trouble in Mind”
Muddy Waters: “You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had”
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee: “Talking Harmonica Blues”
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee: “Rambler’s Blues” medley
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee: “Walk On”
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”

There was a re-enactment by at Chorlton tram stop 7th May 2014 and coverage by the BBC of the 50th anniversary.

CP Lee, and audience member Brian Smith recalled the event in 2017.

by Costel Harnasz.

Some of the long-standing members of the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop will remember Rob Trueblood. This is a brief story of the part he played in the creation of the Loop and how the Friends came into being.

I knew Rob Trueblood from sometime in the late 1970s, when our paths first crossed, both of us living in Prestwich, both of us teaching at the time. We became friends sharing an interest in local and industrial history in which maps figured greatly. We both became active in local and community politics.

One Saturday, in the mid 1990s, after popping out to the shops I came home to find a note pushed through my door. It was a note from Rob about an old railway track, ending with the capitalised words THIS IS THE BIG ONE! We arranged to meet that day and over mugs of tea, the Manchester A to Z, and the OS Explorer map spread over the kitchen table Rob explained that he had been following the route of an old railway line, on his bike, crossing over bridges, and turning into whatever roads that led to the next bridge, and so on till he emerged not far from me.

I caught his excitement, and shortly afterwards we both set off together to repeat the journey he’d made, but in the opposite direction, after finding a gap in a fence, and down to the level of the trackbed where the railway lines had once been. The cuttings were overgrown, some parts quite wet underfoot where water had pooled. Embankments covered with self seeded trees, nature at work. It was exhilarating to feel like we were bush whacking – in the city – on top of which, we had plunged into another, hidden traffic free world coexisting with the one we had been familiar with.

What happened next? Rob discovered that an organisation called Sustrans had produced a document in conjunction with Manchester City Council, for something called The Fallowfield Loop. He obtained a copy, a cartophile’s dream, full of detailed maps. We blew the dust off the report and formed an association called Two Wheels Good, and began to breath life into its pages. He created a display to take round to events where we could set up a stall and advertise the possibility of a traffic free cycle route across south Manchester. It was fantastic collaborating with Rob (a one time geography teacher) and we had maps to show schools that could be linked, parks and open spaces, train stations.

We had an aim to try and get funding in time for the Millenium celebrations of 2000. There was a lot of money around for a multitude of projects but cycling was just not on the agenda at the time and the funding didn’t emerge. But we ploughed on. Two Wheels Good became a properly constituted ‘Friends of’ body and a year later funding emerged, from a different national lottery source. The forthcoming 2002 Commonwealth Games was a driver as we offered the prospect of a traffic-free route round the city to the venue, by way of the Ashton Canal. This was picked up by the press, and also, by then so many councillors knew from our lobbying that the line of the FLoop passed through their wards.

Round this time Rob had discovered that Sustrans had a local area volunteer ranger, Dick Venes, and in 2001 the inaugural meeting of the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop took place in a bar that occupied the premises of the original Fallowfield Station, now absorbed into Sainsbury’s. It was a packed meeting, standing room only with over 35 people attending. Rob was the first chair, Dick its treasurer, and I secretary. The following year the first section of the FLoop was officially opened. The council produced, in conjunction with FotFL, the first leaflet with map. It was called The Fallowfield Loop, but a year or two later the next edition quickly appeared, called The Manchester Cycleway. I think it had been picked up by some far sighted officials in the transport department and while it seemed a shame to me that the name Fallowfield Loop had gone (at least from the cover), cycling was now, literally, on the map in Manchester. I do believe that the FLoop prompted more cycle routes appearing on roads, and it was exciting to see signs pointing to how to get to the FLoop.

Rob’s involvement with the FLoop decreased as it took on a life of its own – to this day the Friends of the FLoop remains one of the very few ‘Friends of’ an off-road cycle route in the country. He became involved with driving new projects in the north of the city. He got more and more into wildlife, the environment of natural history, continuing that strand in our early lobbying when we would refer to the FLoop as a Greenway. Rob was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis last year, and this year contracted complications. He died in Prestwich, at home, close to where I first bumped into him.

David Beetham

We are very sad to report the death of David Beetham, Treasurer of the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop, and former Honorary Secretary and Chair, on Monday 4 July. David was a long-standing member of the Friends and a great driving force in his many years on the Committee, with many contributions as an officer and excellent understanding of grant applications. However, it was his initiatives in the funding, planting and maintenance of our community orchards in Levenshulme, Debdale, and Fallowfield which will be remembered as his outstanding contribution. In fact his last project with us was planting the Chervil orchard in Fallowfield, which we completed only in the last couple of months.

David Beetham

David had a very distinguished career as a Professor of Politics at Leeds University, published several books on political systems and was still in demand as a consultant on democracy in developing countries. He served as a local Labour party councillor in Manchester in his time and latterly was a member of the Green Party.
David will be greatly missed by the Friends. We will publish details of any funeral or memorial service arrangements when they are available.

Route Details

  • From Chorlton to Fairfield station
  • Distance: 5.4 miles.
  • Type: Disused railway path, no hills and largely traffic free.
  • Surface: Tarmac
  • Path Number 6

Route Description

The Fallowfield Loopline is an attractive, largely traffic-free walking and cycling route which follows a former railway line. The route is a classic urban railway path, ideal for families and new cyclists who need to build up their confidence away from road traffic. It forms a green corridor running about one mile south of the city centre, linking parks and open spaces.

The Loopline connects Chorlton to Fairfield station and includes many reminders of its past as a railway line. The route begins at St Werburgh’s station in fashionable Chorlton. It runs through the thriving suburb of Levenshulme, through to Debdale Park, Gorton reservoirs and up to Fairfield station.

The Loop also connects to Route 60, which uses the in-filled canal to take you up to the Velodrome, the City Stadium and the Ashton Canal.

What we plan to do and why we want to do it

On many parts of the path, we simply seek to maintain what is there. In other sections we have identified opportunities to enhance habitats. We always aim to keep a safe and open feel to the path which sometimes requires us to undertake tree and scrub management as well as cutting grass directly adjacent to the path to prevent it from causing an obstruction. We also thin trees where it would improve the woodland health and we clear around some of the older trees to release them from the competition of younger more vigorous trees and allowing them to be fully appreciated by route users.

As you read on, you can see that the path has been split into 5 sections each with a specific focus beyond this general management. There is a brief description as to the nature and proposed management of each section.

Environmental Management Objectives

Restoring and enhancing the existing grasslands and woodlands along the route

Creating species rich habitats in suitable locations

Improving connections between habitat patches in the wider landscape

Providing suitable opportunities for nesting and hibernating wildlife

Increasing the abundance and diversity of foraging resources such as flowers, seeds, berries and insects along the route

Joining up habitats on the trail with Highfield Country Park Local Nature Reserve to encourage local wildlife to spread on to the route

Social Management Objectives

Providing volunteering opportunities for local people

Working with local businesses to manage the trail

Providing a setting which promotes and facilitates health and wellbeing

Creating a safe and welcoming environment for all

St Werbergh’s – Slade Lane

An section of path with many mature broadleaved trees, including sycamore, oak, willows and aspen. This section of path has
some issues with invasive plant species and fly-tipping

We would like to…

1/ Reduce the presence of invasive snowberry, rhododendron, spirea, and laurel and prevent any negative impacts it may have on the trail’s biodiversity or its neighbours.

2/ Clear fly-tipping and engage neighbours who deposit garden and household waste on the trail

3/ Assess and actively manage the poplar species which may grow too large for the trail.

Slade Lane to Nelstrop Road North

An open section of the path with food growing, grassland, scattered broadleaved trees and scrub

We would like to…

1/ Improve the species diversity within the grassland by implementing a traditional cutting regime and introducing new species through green hay application if required.

2/ Add to the food production in this section by planting more fruit trees.

3/ Create shallow ponds to increase the opportunities for wildlife

4/ Undertake habitat improvements on the open land adjacent to St Andrews CofE Primary School

Nelstrop Road North – Shillingford Road

A young woodland containing ash, aspen, willow and native shrubs.

We would like to…

1/ Clear the non-native invasive laurel

2/ Increase the food growing potential of the site by planting fruit trees and bushes

3/ Plant some new trees and create some shallow ponds to increase the habitat for wildlife.

Shillingford Road – Gore Brook

An open ash, cherry and willow woodland with areas of open grassland.

We would like to…

1/ Improve the species diversity within the grassland by implementing a traditional cutting regime and introducing new species through green hay application if required.

Gore Brook – Boothdale Drive

A maturing native woodland with small pockets of black poplar trees and some pond/wetland areas.

We would like to…

1/ Work with neighbours to see some coppicing of the black poplar to remove the risk of them obstructing the path in the future, and to create habitat diversity.

2/ Manage the ponds to maximise their benefits to wildlife

3/ Manage grassland and wetland between Alston Road and Green Fold