Birmingham to London via the canals.

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chris.steenkamp
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Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby chris.steenkamp » 10 Feb 2019, 11:14am

Hi everyone! Looking at taking the bikes up to Birmingham by train, and cycling back via the canals and towpaths.
Has anyone attempted this, and do they have any advice?

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mjr
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby mjr » 10 Feb 2019, 2:10pm

I can only speak about the section I know but Northampton (or Gaydon Junction on the main canal) to Milton Keynes is a mix of OK (in the town and city), very slow dirt track and impossible (Blisworth tunnel). You would have far more fun following NCN Route 6 instead for that bit.

It might be more interesting to try to follow the old GCR forthcoming HS2 route and document it before it changes again forever?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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Sweep
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby Sweep » 10 Feb 2019, 2:14pm

chris.steenkamp wrote:Hi everyone! Looking at taking the bikes up to Birmingham by train, and cycling back via the canals and towpaths.
Has anyone attempted this, and do they have any advice?

I have taken a train to birmingham and ridden back to london a couple times.
You can have the tried and tested gpx if you pm me.
Didn't involve canals though except for the first bit.
Although I have ridden canals on long rides, eg my ride wolverhampton to ribble valley which spent ages on canals near stoke that was because cycletravel routed me that way. I wouldn't deliberately seek them out.
I can recommend breakfast and an espresso in blenheim palace park even though you aren't really supposed to be there.
(Breakfast - i bivvied en route though not i stress at blenheim.
Sweep

mercalia
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby mercalia » 10 Feb 2019, 4:58pm

Is that the grand Union Canal? I have ridden from London up as far as Ivinghoe ( when a YHA there ). Reasonable surface and quite nice in places, but slow. Towards London fear of muggers and often narrow path

1982john
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby 1982john » 10 Feb 2019, 6:48pm

chris.steenkamp wrote:Hi everyone! Looking at taking the bikes up to Birmingham by train, and cycling back via the canals and towpaths.
Has anyone attempted this, and do they have any advice?


Hi Chris.

I'm very familiar with the sections from Birmingham to Warwick. It really varies from decent surface to a rideable trail then degrading to a very narrow path depending on the time of the year.

Right now some sections are very boggy and you would want something that can handle long muddy puddles but those tend to dry out in the summer.

I would estimate that you'd average about 10mph on a good day as you have to stop for bridges that are uncyclable or fisherman dog walkers etc.

chris.steenkamp
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby chris.steenkamp » 10 Feb 2019, 6:49pm

Awesome, thanks!


Regards,

CJ

chris.steenkamp
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby chris.steenkamp » 10 Feb 2019, 6:52pm

Will the train be an issue?


Regards,

CJ

Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 10 Feb 2019, 7:30pm

Trains will be fine if you take London Northwestern Railway or Chiltern Railways. If you go by Virgin you'll need to book a bike space.

Personally, from central Birmingham, I'd actually start by cycling south along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton. Then turn east along the Stratford Canal, which is prettier and has a tolerable towpath (assuming you're not on a skinny-tyred road bike), as far as Lapworth. At Lapworth, go on road to the top of Hatton Locks on the Grand Union. Follow the towpath or (where it differs) NCN 41 to Long Itchington, then take lanes all the way to Milton Keynes. It's moderately cyclable south from there, generally better in those places where it's part of the NCN.

But it depends on your bike - that's what I'd do on a tourer or gravel bike, but on a MTB you could do the lot (slowly) - tunnels excepted - and on a road bike I'd suggest just going by road instead.
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chris.steenkamp
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby chris.steenkamp » 10 Feb 2019, 7:31pm

Thanks, I will definitely be on an MTB!

Slowroad
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby Slowroad » 10 Feb 2019, 8:51pm

“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.”
― Peter Golkin

chris.steenkamp
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Re: Birmingham to London via the canals.

Postby chris.steenkamp » 11 Feb 2019, 4:44am

Thanks!