Grand Union Canal

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newstewart 31 Dec 11:56  

Joined: 31 Dec 2007

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Is it possible to cycle the entire length of the grand Union Canal from Birmingham to London with little road cycling. We are trying to plan this route to cycle this summer and hope it can be completed in 3 days. What we don't know is which sections you can't cycle on and (if any) are the detours easy to follow and will they include busy main roads. Our intentions are to travel from Glasgow to Birmingham by train and return from London to Glasgow.
Any feedback would be appreciated.


Murray Barnes 31 Dec 17:39  

Joined: 07 Jan 2007

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Check out this page on the official site for canals. For some portions of the ride you'll need a permit, which can be downloaded for free.

My Latest Route: Jul 2008 Great Glen Cycleway

johnmcbike 09 Mar 21:08  

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Hello, found this link trying to discover the exact route. I am based in Birmingham and am planning to do london along the Grand Union. I had a conversation recently with a bloke from a boat yard and he rekons the towpath is good all the way - however i just looked at someone elses attempt and they state the towpath runs out for 20 miles south of leicester. Our small group of cyclists plan to do it in four days.

Anyway, best of luck, keep me posted if you get any further information.

Cheers. John Mcqueen


Hatters 15 Mar 17:10  

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I did this route in 1997. 3 days is ambitious and I'd recommend full suspension, as some of the paths are very rough. We tried to do it in 3 days but ended up having to do some road work to catch up. Milton Keynes was a dream (not often you near that), really good cycle paths.
No path under Islington, but as far as I remember (apart from the cheating bit) everything else was cycleable.

Also, plan your stops in advance, we were nearly caught short with nowhere to stay. Not a lot B&B's around.

Unfortunately we couldn't finish in Gas Street Basin as we'd planned because Birmingham was hosting the Eurovision Song Contest at the time and it was closed off!

All that way to be stopped by Eurovision.


shuttle 25 Mar 18:13  

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Me and a mate cycled from brentford to birmingham along the grand union canal last year, think in April, in one go. Took about 15 hrs for us to finish. Would recommend suspension-neither of us has any-having your body shaken continually wasn't the most enjoyable thing in the world! We only had to make a couple of detours which I think we followed from http://www.waterscape.com/canals-and-rivers/grand-union-canal/cycling, but besides that didn't have any problems. These detours weren't the best labelled along the route so it was good we knew to expect them before hand. We didn't have to go on any busy roads along the route


rider 03 Apr 09:19  

Joined: 03 Apr 2008

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You can cycle the entire length of the Grand Union Canal running into London by Regents Park. You can do it with ease in 3 days. It's a great route with only a couple of muddy stretches if the weather is not brilliant. I do a charity ride from London to Birmingham up the canal every year.


puncture king 09 Apr 12:04  

Joined: 09 Apr 2008

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just come back from trying it yesterday and unfortunately had no success, make sure if you are doing it you have the correct tyres as the stretch between leamington spa and braunston is covered with hedgerow,we had 16 punctures on this stretch and realised we had not prepared properly.this is as far as we got but will give it another go later in the year



poodle 28 Apr 11:41  

Joined: 28 Apr 2008

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Thanks everyone for your great advise, I am planning a route from the Peak District (where I live) to London, down to Brighton along the coast Lands End and back to Ashbourne As much off road as possible. I have the CTC maps and hope to mix and match where I can.
If anyone wants to do the High Peak and Tissington trails, they are brilliant. but start off at Middleton top and go up. If you start at Cromford you have 2-3 miles of up hill trudge - its a 1 in 8 by road or trail. I've cycled the road to Middleton to and it ummm interesting.
If there is any advise on any of the trails


Velocipede 03 May 12:19  

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Hi

Just reading through this forum and planning on doing Milton Keynes to London on Grand Union Canal. Can anyone advise me how long, difficult, etc this leg of the journey is. I'm guessing it must be around 70 miles and was hoping to achieve in one day! would this be possible. Where can I get decent map with any detours, etc. Good luck poodle with your mamouth trek.

Look forward to hearing from anyone that can help!




roachpole 17 Jun 08:54  

Joined: 17 Jun 2008

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Just finished route this weekend.Completed inside three days.
Started Birmingham Gas St 10.00am Friday,stayed at Weedon(Heart of England Hotel) Friday,Abbots Langley (Kings Lodge Hotel) Saturday,finished in Little Venice 2.00pm Sunday.
Canal from Southam to Braunston has little or no towpath,very overgrown,nettles,brambles,etc.Very slow going.After Weedon ,great paths all the way to London,couple of long tunnels to go over the top of,not very well marked .We did not go on any roads,so not a problem.
Be prepared for 10 hours a day including stops.
Good luck.
Let us know how you got on.


steve 20 Jun 09:48  

Joined: 20 Jun 2008

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Planning to cycle mk to london august 2008 with my daughters 11 and 13 on grand union .I think two days with b/b or hotel on route.How far do you think we would get day 1?Maps,advice etc.Thanks Steve


Janeymac 30 Jun 21:09  

Joined: 30 Jun 2008

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Hi Steve

I did Milton Keynes to Watford in about 4 hours - the path south of leighton buzzard towards Marworth Junction was grassy and pretty tough going - saying that I'm not the fittest person ever. I think that it was about 35-40 miles. I've also done Watford to Brentford which took about 3 hours - I can't remember how far that was maybe 25 miles or so and the going is definately easier than the grass. I bought maps from Geo Projects on Amazon. You will need Grand Union Canal maps 2 and 3 for that route. They are pretty basic but will cover what you will need including pubs for those well deserved breaks and big glasses of OJ and soda.

I'd definately get your get out options planned if you are going with the wee ones. if you try MK to Tring with the option of going on if you are all ok then you can break at loads of places after that where you can jump on public transport if needs be.



Peter Osborne 14 Jul 14:18  

Joined: 14 Jul 2008

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I have done most of the GU southern section. The towpaths are variable but I would not recommend it at all in wet weather and certainly strong tyres are needed. I found the biggest problem was getting past fishermen who block the path, and walkers who dont like the bikers and are very slow to get out of the way


Mattski 30 Jul 22:31  

Joined: 30 Jul 2008

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Further to this, can you take the Leicester branch and head on up to Nottingham? Really want to do London to the Grantham Canal, and want to know what sort of bike will be able to handle it.


Velocipede 31 Jul 21:44  

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Hello

Its great to get so much information and hear from other who have done or are planning to do some or part of the Grand Union Canal.

Hello Roachpole, thanks for the information, my girlfriend and I have now set a date of 21st August and our proposed route will be Fenny Stratford Lock to Camden, then on to Euston. Guess this will be about 65 to 70 miles and we plan to set off early to allow plenty of time for stops, etc. I'll let you know how we get on and if we actually finish in one day.
Have you any other rides planned?

Hello Steve - good luck to you and your daughters, what date are you planning on going? Like Janey, I have bought the Geo Projects Grand Union Canal Fenny Stratford to the Thames and in addition have purchased the Towpath Guide buy Nick Corble, Grand Union Canal (South)

I would like my next challenge to be a cycle route around the Greek island of Kefalonia. This is an annual cycle event held in April each year. Anyone out there interested?



brad.page 16 Aug 16:45  

Joined: 16 Aug 2008

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Hi, I have just ridden the grand union canal from watford to stoke bruerne. It was 60 miles and very hard going in places. we set off at 9.00 and arrived at 5.00. the friend i was riding with ended up in the canal just past hemel hempstead where it was very muddy after all the rain we had. Nice smooth tarmac through the milton keynes sectioon though.


steve 25 Aug 16:41  

Joined: 20 Jun 2008

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Thanks for the advice .Work has got in the way so far but it runs out shortly so thats our window ,will post details of our attempt shortly.Steve


Velocipede 25 Aug 16:57  

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Hello

Finally cycled from Milton Keynes, (Fenny Stratford swing bridge) to Euston (left the canal at Kings Cross) along the Grand Union Canal on Friday 22nd August. Ride took approx 9 hours with stops for refreshments and relief and was just under 68 miles. Only had to leave towpath in London (Little Venice) for short while as now private. Towpath usable all the way but you must get your more sensitive parts used to your bike saddle. I could not sit down anymore when I arrived in London and was using a new saddle! Now what shall I do next mmmmm?


padowan 29 Aug 21:59  

Joined: 29 Aug 2008

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Hi

Been reading through this forum and planning on going from London to Birmingham. We're planning on doing it in 3 days but need a little help sorting out accommodation, can anyone recommend anywhere to stay?

Haven't really decided how far to ride each day yet all depends on what accommodation we can find and get booked. So please names of anywhere, any help would be fantastic.

And thank you everyone who's posted massages its been such a great help.



amarls 04 Sep 23:35  

Joined: 04 Sep 2008

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Hello, just did the cycle from Birmingham to London Paddington 2 days ago. I managed it in 25hours and 20 mins..... that's excluding sleeping time of 7 hours.

In order to this cycle you need to be very prepared:

Bike- I used a muddy fox adventurer- about 6 years old- doesn't have full suspension, but is relatively light and this helped. I fitted heavy duty inner tubes and only had 1 puncture on my way.

Lights: on my first attempt i used some cheap halford lights- get a good set

Equipment and food- Lots of water- try to attach as much as possible to your bike, lots of sweets etc. Tools- spanner, allen keys and a pen knife comes in handy

Be prepared: The path from leamington to just beyond brauston is terrible-there is no path really. It can be dangerous at times, so be careful.

Lastly- get a good map. Google maps on my phone helped massively. I used the one the runners use every year on their ultra marathon: http://www.gucr.co.uk/route.asp

Good luck



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