Birmingham canals at night

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Sweep
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Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 8 Sep 2018, 7:41am

Am planning a ride at night from Birmingham to the North West.

The route planners I have thrown the route into all suggest longish bits up Birmingham's canals to escape the city. A quick look on the map does seem to suggest that there might be a good reason for this - the alternative routes look like they may be big busy roads. Suppose it must be true that Birmingham is our very own Venice.

Obviously I am not looking for absolute guarantees of safety but just wondered of anyone with local knowledge would consider these safe at night? I do know that I wouldn't cycle London's canals after dark, or even just when there is light pedestrian traffic.

I have cycled Birmingham's canals by day and found them quite nice so can appreciate why the route-planners would favour them.

Oh, one suggested route takes me under Spaghetti junction.

Sounds like an interesting night time excursion.

Anyone got any particular views on that section's nocturnal safety?
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brynpoeth
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby brynpoeth » 8 Sep 2018, 7:54am

After midnight, not Friday or Saturday nights, might be very quiet
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 8 Sep 2018, 8:14am

sorry, not sure of your point bryn?

Tend to think maybe, busy at weekend, bad - drunken folk.

Quiet at other times - also bad.

Perhaps best to try to figure out routes on big roads and, well lit, take my chances with the Birmingham drivers.
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brynpoeth
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby brynpoeth » 8 Sep 2018, 8:16am

After midnight the drunks will be at home one hopes
Quiet is good
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott

pwa
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby pwa » 8 Sep 2018, 10:20am

I've been under Spaghetti Junction on a narrowboat in daytime and it was interesting, and I enjoyed it, but I'd not want to be around there at night. My aim that afternoon was to get clear of the urban area before mooring for the night.

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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby JakobW » 8 Sep 2018, 10:40am

Which way are you headed Sweep? I've walked the Tame Valley and Rushall canals, and most of them would I reckon be OK if not massively salubrious at night, but I've not been through in the evenings to give you a definitive answer. OTOH, an evening super off-peak (after 1830) single rail ticket to Walsall or Wolverhampton is £2.50, and you can take your bike on board; from either station you can be in the lanes in about 15 minutes.

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 8 Sep 2018, 11:14am

I've not cycled the Birmingham canals at night, but I have boated them at night a couple of times, as part of the BCN Challenge!

I'd say it depends on the canal. The Worcester & Birmingham (from Bournville/Selly Oak to the city centre) would be fine, and the Dudley/Stourbridge canals past Merry Hill out towards Stourbridge probably ok too. I'd be wary of the New Main Line from Birmingham to Tipton, though; it can be a bit isolated.
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Si » 8 Sep 2018, 11:45am

My experience of riding them in the dark, mostly from commuting is:

B & F from city centre to Salford Junct (Spaghetti) is generally fine...I've never had an incident with muggers/drunks/etc although I did hear of one incident right in the city city itself earlier this year. From spaghetti going north (Tame Valley Canal) or SE (G U) again has been fine.

B & Worcs - similar experiences, although when you get up to Gas St it can become very busy until the early hours.

Stratford....ditto.

G U down through Small Heath etc.....there have been spates of muggings over the last two years, with cyclists attacked and chucked in the cut. I've only once ever had an issue down there during the day but I don't use it at night.

Main Line from Sandwell - I've not used that one at night for ages.

The other thing to remember is that the tow paths within the limits of Birmingham have all been recently resurfaced. The moment you go over the border the tow paths can degenerate alarmingly!

There are a number of non-canal low traffic / traffic free routes across the city that you might be able to use instead (depending on where you are coming from / going to) but beware Cannon Hill Park - this is on the NCN5 and is really popular with commuter cyclists but recently there have been after dark attacks on cyclists by machete wielding muggers....hopefully the police will sort this out soon.

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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby pwa » 8 Sep 2018, 11:59am

It isn't just tow paths that can become risky at night.

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.497904, ... 8?hl=en-GB

Paths in and around some of Cardiff's big urban parks have seen a spate of sex attacks and other violent incidents in recent years, with students being warned to stay away during the hours of darkness. And Cardiff is not a particularly dangerous city. I'd be wary of any unlit track in an urban area at night. I'd feel safer out on the road with the traffic!

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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 8 Sep 2018, 2:24pm

Si wrote:There are a number of non-canal low traffic / traffic free routes across the city that you might be able to use instead (depending on where you are coming from / going to) but beware Cannon Hill Park - this is on the NCN5 and is really popular with commuter cyclists but recently there have been after dark attacks on cyclists by machete wielding muggers..


Cripes! I think I've been through there on a ride Birmingham to London, though during the day.

Appears to be south of town though - I'm heading north.

More research needed, including extra rail trips.

Birmingham looking tricky because of road layout - would have no issues riding across London at night, though not on canals.
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby crazydave789 » 8 Sep 2018, 2:32pm

I came back down them two weeks ago from NE to SW to get home and will be doing so again from thirk to longbridge at the end of the month. Birmingham is awful to cycle round so the canals are probably the most pleasant way to get through it.

the only thing that was a drawback beyond walkers, drinkers and snoggers was the various surfaces they put in to help the horses and worn brick paths being very bumpy. hit those at speed and it isn't great. some of the bits that go under and around industry are a tad creepy.

gas street basin is a bit crowded but it depends on where you pick it the towpath up, if you hit new street then getting on the paths at the NIA is probably the best bet. there you pick up the new main line the old main line and the fazely/tame,

are you heading up the birmingham mainline onto the shropshire union and up to the mersey or are you going the walsall way north up the middle? the mainline route is good path certainly as far as wolverhamption and autherly. we've been up to wolverhampton a few times to watch the fireworks at the racecourse and do so from the canal side.

I would say I'd meet up and say hello but I'm guessing you plan to do it before october.

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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 8 Sep 2018, 2:36pm

JakobW wrote:OTOH, an evening super off-peak (after 1830) single rail ticket to Walsall or Wolverhampton is £2.50, and you can take your bike on board; from either station you can be in the lanes in about 15 minutes.


Interesting.

Am arriving at Birmingham Moor Street on a cheap ticket from London.

Which station do I take these Walsall or Wolverhampton trains from Jakob?

I take it these are just walk up and buy fares, available from a ticket machine or ticket window?

Which train company so I can check out timetables? - prefer to use company websites rather than national rail.

I hate to miss a bit of peddling (seems to be cheating and spoiling the adventure) but this soft Londoner/northerner may be getting a bit worried by Birmingham :)

If folks put

Birmingham Moor Street

to

Prestwich

into

https://cycle.travel/map

they will see the proposed route with the canal bits usually highlighted in green for traffic free.

Alternatively if anyone can suggest good main roads to shadow the initial canal bit, that might be handy.

I have no problems riding in heavy traffic or even on sensible dual carriageways and will be lit up like a Christmas tree.

Just don't want to cycle anywhere at night where the drivers are too free and easy.

edit - just checked - Cycle.travels proposed initial route does take me through Wolverhampton jakob so your idea could be handy.

crazydave - current plan is to do the trip early October.

No need to worry about Manchester's possibly anti social folk (in case anyone is concerned that I'm dissing Birmingham) as by the time I am going through its more questionable bits they will be sleeping things off.
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crazydave789
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby crazydave789 » 8 Sep 2018, 2:48pm

moor street isn't far from gas street though brum can be confusing.

I assume you aren't intending to do it in one go? I was looking at a similar route to get to liverpool to do the liverpool to leeds canal ride.

google maps tends to show the canals up better for route planning.

early october cool, might have to come and say hello and maybe ride along for a bit.

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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby Sweep » 8 Sep 2018, 2:53pm

crazydave789 wrote:moor street isn't far from gas street though brum can be confusing.

I assume you aren't intending to do it in one go? I was looking at a similar route to get to liverpool to do the liverpool to leeds canal ride.

google maps tends to show the canals up better for route planning.

early october cool, might have to come and say hello and maybe ride along for a bit.


Yes I am planning to do it in one go Dave?

Mad?

Am heading up towards the Ribble Valley.

Am hoping my home-made cycle snack and espresso stops in furtive places will see me through.

If it all goes pear shaped I can always bale at Manchester and train the rest though I would really hate to do that for all sorts of reasons.
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crazydave789
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Re: Birmingham canals at night

Postby crazydave789 » 8 Sep 2018, 3:05pm

Sweep wrote:
crazydave789 wrote:moor street isn't far from gas street though brum can be confusing.

I assume you aren't intending to do it in one go? I was looking at a similar route to get to liverpool to do the liverpool to leeds canal ride.

google maps tends to show the canals up better for route planning.

early october cool, might have to come and say hello and maybe ride along for a bit.


Yes I am planning to do it in one go Dave?

Mad?

Am heading up towards the Ribble Valley.

Am hoping my home-made cycle snack and espresso stops in furtive places will see me through.

If it all goes pear shaped I can always bale at Manchester and train the rest though I would really hate to do that for all sorts of reasons.


I used to prefer doing long rides at night to avoid traffic and cut down on fluid loss. 12+ hours though I'd still prepare to bivvy up and have a nap through the pre dawn chill.

if the moon wind and weather are in your favour though it should be a pleasant trip, if you have a waterways key to keep topped up wi watter.

so this lit up like a xmas tree, do you mean like the solar powered fairy lights we currently have at the botton of the garden? I never considered using them that way