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.

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).

The grass sections are usually rideable, if you take it steady – perhaps better avoided in very wet weather.  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 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, invarably means punctures.

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, along with cafes, pubs and restaurants.

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.

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!

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