Thursday, 7 December 2017

Humber Bridge

The Humber Bridge
There are many spectacular bridges on the National Cycle Network, most of them ex railway viaducts originally built to carry trains across valleys, rivers and estuaries. Where the railway lines have been closed and the tracks removed, they make ideal routes for cyclists, and some modern road bridges have been designed from the start with integral cycle/pedestrian paths. Here is such a bridge, carrying NCN Route 1 across the wide estuary of the River Humber.

The Humber Bridge is the longest bridge in the UK that you can cycle across, having a span of 2.2kms  and at the time of it's opening in 1981, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.  It is now the 7th longest.

It crosses the River Humber from Hessle in South Yorkshire to Barton-on-Humber in North Lincolnshire.

View looking South from Hessle.

The underside of the bridge from the path which runs beneath it. Note the aerodynamic shape of the deck which is designed to withstand winds in excess of 100mph.

The two towers are 150ft high and although both are (of course) vertical they are actually 1.4 inches further apart at the top than the bottom due to the curvature of the earth.

The cycle/pedestrian paths are on both sides of the bridge and set below the road deck which affords some shelter from the wind.

View from the bridge looking towards Hull. with Hessle in the foreground.

                     Looking back towards Hessle from the North tower.

                 View looking Northwards from the Barton end.

The West side path looking Northwards. Note at the top of the picture, yellow warning signs on the locked gate which discourages people (who have no more sense) from trying to walk up the main suspension cables. It has been done, of course!
Since the bridge was opened, 200 people have fallen or jumped from it. Only 5 have survived.
At water level on the North bank there is a fast response RNLI boat.

The Cycle Ride
From Derby by train via Doncaster to Ferriby, which lies on the North bank of the Humber, a few miles West of the bridge, from where you get distant views of the bridge and can ride along the waterside path to Hessle, where the North end of the bridge stands. Best to buy a return ticket to Hessle which also has a station  so that you can catch a train back from there.
Ferriby is famed for historical reasons since it was here that a 4,000 year old boat was found, this being the oldest boat ever found in Europe.

For technophobes - see this long (43 mins) video about the construction of the bridge HERE

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Nottingham - The Big Track

This 10 mile scenic route connects off road paths alongside the River Trent and the Beeston Canal, giving traffic free access to many parts of the City of Nottingham.
                                    Click on map to enlarge.

Since it is a circular route, it is possible to join it at any point, but if coming from Derby the best way is to take the train to Beeston and from the station make your way to Beeston Lock, where the canal and river meet. You then have the option of riding clockwise or anti-clockwise around the route.
So.......... all aboard ............

    And here we are!                      

Follow Meadow Road and Longlands Road to Beeston Lock.

Beeston Lock abounds in facilities for food and drink.

One of which, only recently opened, is here.  Good bike parking in the garden, accessed through archway on the left.

Behind the cottage is the weir, downstream of which the river is not navigable, hence the canal which takes boats through to Trent Bridge in Nottingham where they rejoin the River Trent.

Beeston Lock.

Go straight ahead after Beeston Lock to get onto the riverside path.
The short path on the right leads to the weir.

 Just follow the path, keeping as close to the river as possible.


 This signpost marks the most Southerly point of the circle. The West Bridgeford route follows the river, and the City Centre route follows the canal.

 We are taking the riverside route.

 A well surfaced path all the way .............................

 .......... with glimpses of the river alongside.

 Excellent signing throughout as well.

 After a short stretch of road, keep right here on the path.

 Pass beneath the road bridge at Clifton.

 Here we emerge onto the road, but no problem as the pavement is a shared path so keep right.

 Follow signs to West Bridgeford.

 Cross the main road here.

 Watch out for trams.

Ding! Ding! Here's one now.
Back to the riverside ........................
.................... all the way to Trent Bridge.

Through this archway.

 Turning left away from the river to join the canal towpath. Keep on right side of canal.

Look back to see Notts Forest football ground across the river.

The canal now runs through Nottingham, turning left at the Premier Inn. We cross from right bank to left bank on a bridge here.

Both ancient and modern buildings front the canal here.

The route from here to Beeston Lock is on video,. Click HERE

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Worcester and Birmingham Canal

Of the several canals which radiate from Birmingham City Centre, the Worcester and Birmingham Canal is probably the nicest.
It runs Southwards from Gas Street Basin in the general direction of Redditch.
From Derby a train will whisk you to Birmingham in less than 45 minutes at the cost of a few pounds, depositing you and your bike at the re-furbished New Street station which is close by the local canal system.

Accommodation for bikes on trains is often rather poor, but no complaints on this Cross Country train.
But firstly, take a look at the new New Street station. Once a dark hole in the ground, it is now a much brighter and smarter hole in the ground.

The polished and highly reflective fascia gives interesting images of the buildings opposite.

Above, on the streets of Birmingham, are some striking modern buildings, many still under construction.

Plenty of work for window cleaners here.

 Here is Gas Street Basin, junction of the canal system and a wonderful juxtaposition of ancient and modern buildings.

Looking back the opposite way.

Turning right at Salvage Turn Bridge, we are now heading in the right direction.

The towpath has an excellent hard surface all the way.

Entering Egbaston Tunnel.

Due to the limitations of the locks, this boat is the maximum size allowed on the narrow canals system, being 7 ft wide and 72 ft long.
With the rudder and the skipper at the stern, it must take a bit of practice to steer such a vessel.
The Canal and River Trust are seen here dredging the canal. The multitasking driver is not only operating the hydraulic arm, but driving the boat (backwards).

Following is a large barge to carry away the spoil.

This is the Ariel Aquaduct, opened in 2011, which carries the canal over the main road in Selly Oak. It's name commemorates the Ariel motor cycle factory which once stood nearby. The factory closed in 1970.

The concrete bridge carries the railway, which runs alongside the canal for a few miles.

A nice outlook for these modern houses.

This is Bournville Station. Chocaholics alight here for Cadbury's World.

Interesting laser cut tracery on this lamp standard, showing the railway alongside the canal.

As we approach Pershore Road the canal runs alongside the highway.

As we reach Kings Norton the canal enters Wast Hills Tunnel which is about 1.5 miles long and has no towpath. We leave the waterside up this steep path, and this is as far as we go on this ride, so best to turn round and return to Birmingham along the towpath.
The ride distance is a little over six miles each way.