About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Trikeyohreilly
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About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Trikeyohreilly » 1 Dec 2017, 3:21pm

Hi. We are considering a move from very busy, not (in our oppinion) cycling friendly Kent to Northampton.

One of the perceived bonuses is being so near the hitherto never ridden canal network.

Dreams of long, off road family cycle tours to the South (not too far) North (as far as the Lake District) and West (even as far as family favourite Wales) abound, camping near locks carrying all we need for days on end without even seeing a car. Feel free to bring in some realism here (we recognise we need it), but please be gentle...

But the East? The river Nene is shown on the inland water ways map and suggests it would take us as far as Norfolk. We had assumed that there would be a path along the river but aren't seeing one on Google satellite maps. Does anyone know if there is one? If so can it be ridden?

Thanks Ed

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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Bonefishblues » 1 Dec 2017, 5:46pm


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mjr
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby mjr » 1 Dec 2017, 6:23pm

As far as I've seen, most of the Cambridgeshire/Lincolnshire section would only be rideable on the burliest MTBs. From Northampton, the Grand Union Canal towpath used to be mostly rideable in good weather but a lot of it's dirt. NCR 539 and 6 seem the best option for getting access to long-distance routes: northwards is the off-road stonedust Brampton Valley Way, southeastwards is fairly quiet roads to Milton Keynes and its famous redways.
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Richard Fairhurst
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 2 Dec 2017, 10:42am

Generally, navigable rivers (as opposed to canals) do not have cyclable towpaths.

The reason is one of land ownership. On a canal, the banks and towpath were constructed by a canal company and are owned by their successor as navigation authority (usually the Canal & River Trust), which maintains them to a certain standard. (That standard isn't always good enough for touring bikes, but that's another story.)

A river is owned by the landowners to either side (the "riparian owners"). There is a right for boats to pass along the river (a "right of navigation" or equivalent), which is usually though not always administered by a navigation authority, but it has never been taken into the ownership of that authority. If there is a towpath - and there isn't always - then it will be a public right of way established through the usual process, usually a public footpath rather than anything that would confer cycling access.

So although there are a few navigable rivers with cyclable towpaths - parts of the Thames in London and the Severn in Worcester, for example - these are very much exceptions.
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pwa
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby pwa » 2 Dec 2017, 10:50am

Tow paths were made for towing, by horse, which was the main means of propulsion on the canals before steam engines took over. But on navigable rivers there was also the use of sails, making a tow path unnecessary. Maybe the Nene never had a tow path.

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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby brynpoeth » 2 Dec 2017, 11:16am

pwa wrote:Tow paths were made for towing, by horse, which was the main means of propulsion on the canals before steam engines took over. But on navigable rivers there was also the use of sails, making a tow path unnecessary. Maybe the Nene never had a tow path.


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tykeboy2003
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby tykeboy2003 » 2 Dec 2017, 2:48pm

In my experience the majority of canal/river towpaths are just dirt and pretty well impassable on a bike for most of the year. Some bits are ok in summer and some not even then. Mostly I would say a mountain bike is required but you might do some bits on a hybrid or tourer with the biggest tyres you can fit. Here in South Derbyshire/Staffs/Leics there are loads of canals, rivers and ex-railway tracks to cycle on but if you want to get somewhere you will inevitably have to go on a road at some point.

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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 2 Dec 2017, 3:02pm

If you'll forgive the brief plug - I put together a guide to canal cycling at http://cycle.travel/advice/canal_cycling , with several pages (organised by area) summarising the conditions on each waterway. I've either cycled or boated pretty much all the waterways in Britain, but always happy to hear suggestions/corrections. Next step is to add some maps for each one!
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby mjr » 2 Dec 2017, 9:28pm

Richard Fairhurst wrote:If you'll forgive the brief plug - I put together a guide to canal cycling at http://cycle.travel/advice/canal_cycling , with several pages (organised by area) summarising the conditions on each waterway. I've either cycled or boated pretty much all the waterways in Britain, but always happy to hear suggestions/corrections. Next step is to add some maps for each one!

Is South West England missing or am I drunk?
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Richard Fairhurst
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 2 Dec 2017, 9:51pm

To be honest there are so few canals in the SW that I hadn't created a page for them! But you're right, I should probably add one for the Grand Western, Exeter, Bridgwater & Taunton etc.
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mjr
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby mjr » 2 Dec 2017, 9:58pm

Or add them to the southern England one. It was the B&T and the navigable bits of the Parrett and Tone that I was thinking of. I'm pretty sure most of them are rideable and much is NCR.
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Stradageek
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Stradageek » 3 Dec 2017, 9:10am

I'd add a shout out for Northampton. I was born and brought up in Kent (Canterbury) and love the rides through the North Downs, to which I return whenever I can. Northampton however has kept me cycling happy for the last 40 years. There are literally hundreds of miles of quiet country lanes linking a multitude of small villages. From central Northampton I can be on these lanes in 10 minutes.

The second advantage is, as you say, the location. With children in Sheffield and Exeter and family all over the country being near main arterial motorways - no matter how much I hate them - and mainline stations (Northampton and Wellingborough) is a real bonus.

The third advantage is that Northampton sprawls along the River Nene and has an excellent cycle path along the full length of the town so I NEVER do any shopping by car. Everything from the iffy town centre to the most distant 'out-of-town' shopping centres are accessible by pootling along next to the river. Now if we could just close the A45 and get rid of the traffic noise along the Brackmills section.......

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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby brynpoeth » 3 Dec 2017, 9:20am

Coming soon: we love Northampton!

212 000 inhabitants, one of the biggest towns, not a city

Yet
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Bonefishblues
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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby Bonefishblues » 3 Dec 2017, 9:25am

Stradageek wrote:
The third advantage is that Northampton sprawls along the River Nene and has an excellent cycle path along the full length of the town so I NEVER do any shopping by car. Everything from the iffy town centre to the most distant 'out-of-town' shopping centres are accessible by pootling along next to the river. Now if we could just close the A45 and get rid of the traffic noise along the Brackmills section.......

Rushden Lakes should be avoided at all costs if travelling by car, being the home of the worst and most congested roundabout I think I can ever recall seeing. Inasmuch as one can be, it's a lovely centre though - real care has been taken, it seems to me, and is home to Canoe2, which our family keeps telling itself it should do an excursion along the Nene with.

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Re: About the River Nene (Northampton to the coast)

Postby pga » 3 Dec 2017, 10:30pm

Northamptonshire is a wonderful cycling county. I discovered after moving from Manchester over 40 years ago that the riding can be challenging - no big big climbs but not much flat either. There are a few good flattish routes, eg the Brampton Valley Way along the old railway from Northampton to Market Harborough, ideal for family riding with the bonus of a preserved railway en route. Some of the new housing estates to the south of the town have funded cycling routes along the Grand Union Canal. There are no riverside cycling routes on the Nene but reasonable quiet roads are never far away.
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