Cycling in and around Birmingham England
I have a half-term query.
I'm aiming to get out along the Severn with my family. I'm thinking of taking a slightly roundabout route involving a train from Moor Street to Kidderminster and the Severn Valley Railway to Bridgnorth.
Does anyone have any experience of using the SVR (or the route to Kidderminster for that matter) with bikes and/or kids?
Thanks in advance for any tips you can offer,
My wife and i did a ride along the Severn Valley on a very hot day last summer. We opted to take the train between Hampton Loade and Arely on the way back. I don't remember paying for the bikes we just put them in the guards can and leaned out of the window for some air :-)
You should be fine with bikes from Moor Street to Kidderminster outside of rush hour (allowed in rush hour on most trains but can get rather busy). There should be plenty of space in the carriage(s) marked for bikes and disabled access. (Depending how many you are taking.)
The SVR website says that cycles are carried for free in the guards van (Oh halcyon days of rail and bike travel!) -- which is contrary to what I thought was the case and good news. I guess you might like to phone in advance if you have more than a couple of bikes.
I have ridden some of the Sustrans bike route that parallels the SVR and the Severn, with quite small children. It's a nice ride, a little undulating, well surfaced, from Highley north (from the Severn Valley Country park - also worth a visit). There's a rather steep (unrideable) narrow path past Chelmarsh reservoir. I can only assume the yachting club was too snooty to allow the route to come up their drive. The route diverts on to country lanes after that which I haven't ridden but I imagine provide a nicer entrance to Bridgnorth, which is rather busy on the B4555.
I also did the ride on the NCR from Bewdley to Bridgnorth a while back. Coming back by train was no problem. Unless my memory fails me the route is a tad more than undulating- the climb out of Bewdley is a pig, and the rest goes up and down like a yoyo. The surface of the paths is often poor, not only can you not ride the bit up to Chelmarsh reservoir, we had to carry our bikes and scramble up. Any road bike is out of the question unless you want to carry it a lot.
Bits of the ride are quite pleasant but nothing spectacular apart from where it runs alongside the railway, and then only if a train passes.
Much better is the ride from Bridgnorth to Ironbridge- but of course no SVR there- you'll be cycling on the old railway trackbed.
Ugh, I'd almost forgotten about that. It featured on a slow tour to Aberystwyth I did about 3 years ago. Little horsey ford thing at the bottom, then some semi-ridable singletrack that rapidly deteriorates until you're pushing your loaded touring bike up a steep hill through the midge-infested undergrowth. Next time, use the road.
I wrote a ride report, and described the route from the Severn Valley Visitors Centre to the campsite at Astbury Falls thus:
"A stop for cake at the visitors centre, and we set off on the gentle pootle up the cycle route that took us most of the way to the campsite. Except that, in classic Sustrans style, the riverside path turned out to have gradients better suited to a roller coaster. Throw in the usual assortment of overgrown single-track, loose gravel, anti-cycling gates and a 'water hazard' (nothing happened) and it took most of the afternoon to cover a few miles."
Phil Weber said:
There's a rather steep (unrideable) narrow path past Chelmarsh reservoir. I can only assume the yachting club was too snooty to allow the route to come up their drive.
Thanks everyone - some really helpful tips!