Birmingham Cyclist

Cycling in and around Birmingham England

Does anyone have any up to date information about the route along the towpath to Stratford? There's an old post about this from 2010 - has anyone got and update?

Cheers

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Bump.

I'm planning to cycle from Birmingham to Stratford on Wednesday. Hesitating over how much to use the towpath - is it still very un-cycle-friendly for much of the way? Does anyone have any favoured alternate routes for getting to Stratford? 

Earlswood, Tanworth, ullenhall, Wooten wawen, little Alne, billesley,
Cross the A46 south a mile then turn left into Stratford

I've not cycled down it for a while & there is a really rough section between Lowsonford to Wooten Wawen but the lanes between are great not sure about the next part of the canal but from Wilmcote into Stratford the tow path is pretty good!

I tried cycling around the Drawbridge onwards last year and the towpath is shocking ..I gave up..!..but gotta say there's lovely houses on other side of canal..!

Russ M said:

I've not cycled down it for a while & there is a really rough section between Lowsonford to Wooten Wawen but the lanes between are great not sure about the next part of the canal but from Wilmcote into Stratford the tow path is pretty good!

The towpath is lovely until you reach the Birmingham/Solihull border, then it goes back to narrow and uneven, sometimes muddy (OK not this week), track. As Russ says, it gets better at Wilmcote. So it's just the 13 or so miles in between! ;-D  I would favour the lanes if I were you, much smoother, faster and there's always the chance of a shop/pub or cafe should you need sustenance or an ice cream......

It's doable on a mountain bike but anything else will just beat you up. I did the eastern route via Grand Union and Kingswood Junction on my cross bike and couldn't face another hour of bumpy grass so came back on the road. A fatbike would be perfect!

Thanks everyone for your replies - they're really helpful. In view of the state of the towpath, I'm thinking at the moment that I'll follow the canal out of Birmingham, then switch to the roads until Wilmcote, where I'll rejoin the towpath. I cycle on roads to get to work, but for pleasure I prefer traffic-free routes - so I'm not haunted by the feeling that a fat head in an Audi's going to speed around the next corner straight into me. 

I've got a fairly sturdy hybrid bike - it was mostly okay with Birmingham/Worcester canal, but I did have to dismount and walk it along some sections. 

I'll report back on how it goes. 

Thanks again. 

Did this route years ago, on a tourer, it was terrible, dried muddy ruts. Suspect only finished as sustained by liquid pain relief from canal side pubs, took train back, dark by the time I got home. Will be interested to hear how you get on. And whether pubs still in business.

Done it, and reporting back in excessive detail:

Got up at ten past six, and probably set off at around twenty to seven. Headed down the Birmingham/Worcester canal, then left along the Stratford canal. I cycled a short way a long it last year, and since then the towpath has partially collapsed at one point - it looked like a dying souffle, and gave me a shock since I saw it too late to brake. But made it across and kept going. The Canal and Rivers Trust surface of pressed grit gave way to a narrow track about half a mile before the Drawbridge Inn.

From then on, for parts of the towpath I walked, and other sections I cycled slowly. Certainly slowly enough to appreciate the truth of John Butler's comment about the nice houses. (And even nicer gardens - I really want a garden that descends to a not-very-flood-prone waterway.)  I had meant to leave the towpath around Major's Green or Dickens Heath, but lost track of where I was, and ending up leaving it near Earlswood (circa Bridge 16) when a helpful sign pointed the way to the reservoirs. 

From there I mostly followed James Patterson's route - I headed to Tanworth in Arden, then Danzley, then turned right down a very quiet lane until I reached Henley Road, which I followed through Henley in Arden, right down Pettiford Lane, across the main road, then down Pennyford Lane. Followed the B4089 until after Little Alne, when a right turn led me by two more back roads to Wilmcote. From Wilmcote I followed the canal towpath into Stratford. This included one short glorious section of smooth tarmac alongside a run of lock gates. Sadly it was back to grit after that. Once I'd neared the centre of Stratford, it was easier to walk because of the profusion of nettles and tourists. 

Made it to the RSC for 10.30am - three hours earlier than the start of the play I went to see. I'd left myself plenty of "things go horribly wrong" time, which in the end was happily not necessary. Took the train back at 17.30 after failing to find the start of the Stratford Greenway. Admittedly, I didn't look very hard. 

Great day out. Highlights were seeing the many ducklings and goslings out on the water, admiring the old farm buildings (and barn conversions - Warwickshire should really advertise itself as the Heart of Barn Conversions), and not falling in the canal. 

Thanks, everyone, again. 

Forgot to mention: though bits of the towpath in the area of Solihull were really horrible, it wasn't too bad further along in the Dickens Heath area - fairly broad and mainly earthen, without the rocks and ruts that had made it impossible earlier. Still had to go quite slowly along it though, and it would be unusable after rain. 

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