Cycling & Cycle Routes

Local cyclists, will need no introduction to the Vale of Belvoir (pronounced beaver).

The vale is a hidden gem, which is part of its charm, as it is largely passed by in the rush for the more recognised ‘honeypot’ areas of the country.

With so much information about cycling routes available on line, and at local Tourist information Centres,  I’ll only concern myself with a brief introduction to the area.

The escarpment of the Belvoir Edge and the Nottinghamshire Wolds, border the vale to the south.  This provides a wonderful, often wooded backdrop – if you want hills – we’ve got ’em!

If the thought of hills is enough to keep you under the duvet – fear not!  The bulk of the vale is level – and for those who like their cycling dead flat – I introduce you to the Grantham Canal towpath!

33 miles of sheer delight, with perhaps the two extreme ends not being of interest if you’re out for a day’s cycling in the countryside.

Longore Bridge – rural isolation

Of this 33 miles of towpath – 22 miles have a crushed stone surface – the remainder being grass.  The grass section is (largely) between Harby and Woolsthorpe by Belvoir, and was left in grass, due to these areas being designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  

A wayside seat near Muston, with views to Belvoir Castle

The grass sections are usually rideable, if you take it steady – perhaps better avoided in very wet weather.  Some, in their 4th flush of youth, and no longer racing fit, have found these long stretches of grass a little tiring – please consider this if you’re doing an end to end 😉   A timely note here about hedge cutting.  Hedges are predominately Hawthorn and Blackthorn – as cyclists, it’s the last syllable of these two words which will be of  interest – thorns mean punctures!  Hedges do have to be trimmed.  This has to be done out of the birds nesting season through the autumn and winter.  Contractors working for the Canal and River Trust, who do this work, usually do a great job in blowing clear the thorns from surfaced towpaths – stay on the surfaced portion!  Always be aware of a few stray thorns which get scratched back on by dogs and birds!  Clearing grass sections is not realistically possible.  Cycling on these sections during and, for sometime after hedge cutting, invariably increases the risk of punctures – try to ride where others have gone before 😉  Sorry to dwell on this – we’ve had letters 🙁

Approaching Lock 13, under a wide blue sky 

Sheer delight – autumn on the summit level, emerging from Harlaxton cutting

The ‘Grantham Canal Guide’ is an excellent companion to cycling along the towpath – it indicates the type of surface you’ll encounter – along with a wealth of information about the canal and surrounding area – cafes, pubs and restaurants too!  Also see the link at the bottom of the page for places where refreshment can be found.

To order your guidebook, visit: ‘Merchandise’ on the homepage.

I firmly believe lying the OS map out on the floor at home to plan your route is best.  The choices of cycling routes are almost endless, most of the lanes are light in traffic – avoiding perhaps, the long straight road between Bottesford and Harby.  Many of the green lanes and tracks are passable, and are useful when planning your route.

Perhaps you’d like to return and enjoy the canal from a different perspective?  Cruises of 2, 3 & 4 hrs can be chartered exclusively for your group – see homepage for details.

If sheer rural isolation appeals, as does the complete absence of motor traffic, and route planning is not your thing – spend the day cycling along the towpath, you won’t be disappointed.

A most enjoyable day’s cycling in the vale awaits!

Notes about road crossings and chicane type barriers at access points:

Two road crossing require particular care:

  1. A52 Lings Bar.  The canal and towpath have been severed here by this very busy road – it is not safe to cross by the more direct (and obvious) route across this duel carriageway, which also involves scaling the crash barrier on the central reservation.  There is a light controlled crossing approx 400mtrs away.
  2. Bottesford Bridge (Bridge 55), needs care.  This bridge was rebuilt some years ago – without providing the towpath under.  It’s a little awkward squeezing a bike through the opening to gain access to the road, i.e. panniers may have to be removed.  Sight lines aren’t great here for crossing the road.  Fortunately, traffic is fairly light.
  3. Chicane type barriers are installed at many of the access points.  These are to help prevent motorcycles from using the towpath.  These barriers will not be a problem for most users.  Even bicycles with trailers can usually negotiate them without unhitching.  Tandems may have to be lifted over the barrier.  If no rear mudguard it fitted – the usual trick is to rear the bike up and wheel it around the barrier on its rear wheel.  This is often easier with solo bikes too!  These barriers will gradually be replaced with ‘A’ type ones – but this will be over a period of some years. 

…don’t forget your puncture repair outfit/spare tube…

The link below was uploaded and believed to be correct: 5th August 2017

Tea Rooms & Cafes

TJ