Thursday, 25 August 2011

Route 52: Coaville 6 São Paulo 5997

About a month ago, I came across possibly the most exotic cycle tourist to grace Route 52 for many a year. Hermando is a traffic cop from São Paulo, Brazil and was looking lost and tired between Barton and the Beans and Odstone (where the 52/63 meet), hoping to get to Derby. Anyway, he looked too tired to get to Derby, so I took him back to ours, out for a pub dinner and then let him kip in the spare room.

The shame at Hermando getting lost on my patch has motivated to improve the signage from Congerstone to Worthington. I've replaced all old-style or vandalised signs. I've put some confirmation signs in after junctions. I've put up 20-odd destination patches, most of which replace existing arrows and tell potential users about what is actually of interest on the route eg. mileage to towns/cities (Derby, Loughborough, Coalville, Nuneaton, Market Bosworth) and visitor attractions (currently Battlefield Centre only.)

I hope we can have a look at signing as a group and see what we can get sorted out.

The 52/63 links pretty much all of the visitor attractions in our area together: Grace Dieu, Snibston Discovery, Battlefield Line, Battlefield Centre, Conkers/Cycle Centre/YHA/Camping, Moira Furnace...we should aim to make people feel that they are on a 'network' which connects these visitor attractions, towns and little villages together. We also need to make sure signing is very clear where routes meet (52/63 and 52/6). Currently, the highways signing only really tells you which village is next. So, I can see why Hermando got lost!

However, our number one priority as a group should be improving the signage to...Belcher's Bar. It is a small hamlet near Ibstock just after the 63 crosses the A511. It does exist, it is on the maps and my Gran confirms that it is called Belcher's Bar. For comedy value, we need to get some destination patches for it ASAP!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

All towns should be like this

Tamworth seems to have 2 claims to fame. It is apparently the fattest town in the UK (you heard it here first) and it has some of the best cycle facilities I have seen in a town. Clearly the fat people should be getting out and using them. So why was I on Tamworth anyway?

Well as you may have seen on previous posts we are looking to establish a route between Tamworth and Nuneaton. We surveyed the whole route a month or so ago but there were issues getting through Nuneaton and also around the Whateley area outside Tamworth there was a nasty stretch on Trinity Lane adjacent to the M42. So I set off to Tamworth to see if there was a viable westerly route through Dosthill / Whateley area and the answer was yes there is.

I have described the route below, but first a word on Tamworth town cycling. Pick up a copy of the Tamworth cycle map (PDF here) and you are immediately struck by how many green routes there are. These are off road segregated cycle paths that take you around and through the town. Sure some are by the sides of roads, but many are through parks and open spaces. Whats more they interlink, they have good road crossings, are well signed and well surfaced - a delight to cycle.

Anyway enough gushing, what about the route?

I have not mapped out the route yet, but with the description below you should be able to follow the route easily on the Tamworth Cycle Map (see link above).

From the station, the route initially follows the cycle path along Saxon Drive before getting away from the road onto paths through the park and past the Snowdome. The route then broadly follows Peelers Way. After crossing Peelers Way the route joins some quiet estate roads for a short stretch before picking up another off road path alongside the River Tame. We then join another quiet estate road again which takes us to Dosthill Park. From here we follow a cycle path along the Tamworth Road, before crossing over the road to take another cycle path alongside Hedging Lane. The end of Hedging Lane is a bit of a pull up, but nothing too bad and the cycle path ends a little before the right turn into Hockley Lane. Hockley Lane leads into Whateley Lane which is a delightful single track lane which takes you through Whateley (a little hilly) and across the M42. A short right / left dogleg takes you across Trinity Lane and you are then on your way to Wood End and Nuneaton beyond.

A good route methinks I would be interested in your views.


PS If you decide you have to see Tamworth why not take a trip to see the Staffordshire Hoard. Its free, but you have to book. Better still if you are going to Camp Conkers, Shawn will take you there.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Into Nuneaton on a bike

In a previous post I talked about a "reccie" to survey the proposed NCN route between Tamworth and Nuneaton. The route into Nuneaton from Hartshill / Chapel End proved a bit of a headache on the first outing as we battled along major roads. A more detailed look at the Nuneaton Cycling map and some routes posted by Nuneaton CTC (here) suggested there was a better way. So I set off to find out.

This is the proposed route cycling into Nuneaton. From Chapel End it doglegs across the main Coleshill Road (there is a crossing nearby). After the dogleg it picks up Waggestaff Drive (not shown some maps) and uses quiet estate roads to get to Bucks Hill.

Almost opposite is the entry to the off road cycle tracks into Whittleford Park, unfortunately there are 5 or 6 shallow steps to contend with. The (large) kissing gate is not as bad as it first seems. Having read the CTC route description again it looks as though there could be a better entrance a little further up the road - I need to check this out.
There are various tracks through Whittleford Park - I'm not quite sure I chose the right one, but it was very pleasant. There are a few "restrictors" to deal with, but not too bad.
At the exit to the park (by Willow Road) the route joins estate roads towards Nuneaton centre. The proposed route crosses the NCN52 canal section along Vernons Lane, but unfortunately this is only accessible via some steep steps. The canal is however accessible at the next bridge both up and down so I need to check out the links better.
At the end of Fife Street the route crosses a park for a short distance before emerging on Pool Bank Street. A short distance on a shared use path and the route joins the (Roanne) Ringway. A shared use path then goes clockwise around the ringway until you get to Asda rounabout. Here there seems little alternative but to join the main road for the last few hundred yards round to the station.
Coming in the other direction from the station the route needs to be slightly different because of the one way system and has to follow a loop around Regent Street and Back Street. Not great to cycle but there are some shared use pavements and crossings that can be utiled most of the way and it is only a short distance.

So in summary I would say that this is a good route. It is reasonably direct and doesn't have too many crossings. I want to go back and look for a better way in to Whittleford Park and investgate the links to NCN 52. All comments welcome.