A couple of weekends back I attended a regional Sustrans training day in the centre of Birmingham. (will try and write this up sometime). This and a good forecast was reason enough to try and cycle my way into the centre of Brum - something I have fancied doing for a while.
Planning a quiet / traffic free route proved a little harder than I imagined - in particular trying to find out cycling conditions on the extensive canal network proved difficult. I eventually managed to get hold of a copy of the excellent Birmingham Cycle Map , which I found more practical than the online mapping
The route I eventually settled upon was from Stoke Golding to Kingsbury Water along quiet lanes through Atherstone, Baxterley and Hurley and then picking up the Birmingham and Fazeley canal just outside Kingsbury Water park at Bodymoor Heath. I intended to pick up the Birmingham and Warkwick canal at spaghetti junction, but I wasn' paying attention and in the end followed the Birmingham and Fazeley canal all the way (actually Sustrans route 535) to my destination in Digbeth very close to the city centre.
So how did I find it and would I do it again? Well despite having two punctures (my fault because my back tyre was past its sell by date) the answer is that it was great and I would deinately consider doing it again. Progress along the upper section of the canal from Kingsbury to around Minworth was a little slow and consequently the whole trip of 26 miles took about 2.5 hours each way. The route was very easy to find - the only place I got lost was within Kingsbury Water Park, but this is a very pleasant place to be lost. The upper part of the canal was not always ideal for cycling - a couple of potholes on the towpath that I had to walk around and one which I didn't, but should have (narrowly avoided a swim!!).
The canals through Birmingham was fascinating, but disappointingly there was precious little boating. Next time I want to spend more time in the centre exploring some of the other canals.
Anybody fancy a trip?