Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Southwell Trail

The Southwell Trail is a reclaimed railway route of some 7.5 miles running from the town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, to Bilsthorpe.
Access from Derby is best by trains running hourly towards Newark. Some  of these run direct to Newark and do not require a change  at Nottingham.   Since Southwell does not have a train station you have to alight at Fiskerton and cycle a couple of miles on road. 

Southwell is a beautiful unspoilt town, well worth a look round, and has lots of nice places for food and drink. It even has a Birds cake shop which keen Derby cyclists/cake scoffers will appreciate.

                                     The Minster is a most unusual church and is well worth a visit.

                                            Some lovely old buildings surround the Minster.

                                      The start of the trail is from Station Street in Southwell.

                         The trail is well surfaced, and tree lined for most of it's length.
                                             It is route 645 of the National Cycle Network.

                 One or two minor gradients where the railway crossed roads on bridges, since removed.

The surrounding countryside is pleasant though not spectacular.

Unusual barriers at a few road crossings.

The off road trail ends here at this car park in Bilsthorpe, which has little of any significance.
However a few miles further North lies Sherwood Forest with cycle trails running from the visitor centre at Sherwood Pines, and this will be the subject of a future post.  

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Caldon Canal

The Caldon Canal is a minor branch of the better known Trent and Mersey Canal, running from Stoke-upon-Trent towards Leek and Uttoxeter. Access to the towpath is easy as it is just North of Stoke railway station and Stoke is a very easy train ride from Derby. Although the first part of the ride is on a good quality surface the canal does not reach Uttoxeter and that approach is not easy from Cheddleton, although the Churnet Valley Railway would be a useful link on the days that trains run.

Starting the ride at Hanley.

An excellent surface to the path - route 550 of the National Cycle Network.

A relic of the days when the canal went all the way to Uttoxeter. It no longer does.

A minor road passes over the canal and this electrically powered lift bridge is actuated by a key which boaters carry

A nice pub here, unfortunately on the far side of the water.

Lucky indeed are the residents of these houses whose lovely gardens slope down to the water's edge.

And some of them have their own boats moored alongside.

Another lift bridge,

Information sign on the towpath.
                                             Very deep locks with commensurate gates of the order of 18 feet high.

                                                      Stockton Brook

The canal forks here with one branch going to Leek and the other towards Uttoxeter.

The Hollybush Inn,  an excellent place to stop for food.......................

.............. or a pint.

This grim looking building is Cheddleton Station where you can take a train ride towards Uttoxeter.

Or you have good choice of on-road routes.

From here on the canal towpath is not so good.

Although the scenery is quite nice.