Cycling Britain’s Canals A Grand Union Adventure

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Grand Union Adventure

In September 2020, the Bicycle Adventure Club set off on a 173 mile bike ride over 4 days from London Brentford to Birmingham Salford Junction following the Grand Union Canal.

Many of the UK’s canalside towpaths have been re-developed as part of the National Cycle Network, providing paved, traffic-free routes for easy cycling, especially in and around urban areas. However, if you are prepared to cycle a little bit further, the extensive, 200 year old  canal network can provide some excellent cross country routes for multi day, off road bicycle tours, with some challenging riding and even a spot of wild camping. 

A Brief History of the canals

In the Late 1700s Britain’s canal building was entering it’s ‘Golden Age’. The superhighways of the industrial revolution, cut through the landscape by gangs of navvies; Locks, tunnels, bridges, aqueducts; masterminded by some of the greatest engineers of the Industrial Age. It is testament to their skills and engineering that the canal network still exists.

Hard-working boatmen & their families transported raw materials to manufacturers & products to markets using narrow boats towed along by horses; creating a floating community with unique customs & traditions that echo strongly along the canals today.

The Grand Union Canal came into being in the early 1929 as an amalgamation of more than 8 separate canals making it the longest ‘merged’ canal in the UK providing a link between Birmingham and London, Leicester and Nottingham. Today the industry and commercial traffic has gone. In places the canals have been redeveloped as tourism and leisure hotspots. In other parts, they have become wild enough to forget where you are.

Sarah Round

The Bicycle Adventure Club was formed in March 2019 by Sarah Round and her wife Mary Daly. They wanted to spend more time exploring and having adventures, whilst encouraging & inspiring others to do the same. You can follow the Bicycle Adventure Club at:
W: https://bicycleadventureclub.co.uk
FB: https://www.facebook.com/bicycleadventureclubuk
YT: https://www.youtube.com/bicycleadventureclub

Excerpt from BIKE Magazine, click here to continue reading the full article

April 2021

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