Birmingham to Derby: 76km
After a short time navigating rush hour traffic, we took a couple of side streets and descended some steps to the towpath. The Gas Street Basin is the junction of at least three canals. The centre of England’s industrial revolution was the Midlands with Birmingham at the hub. The canals were very important to this development. The network is large and complex. When Paul was first there in the late ‘60s, the Basin was run down and neglected. It is now bustling with restaurants, pubs, commuters on bikes and tourists on barges.
We followed paths along the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal which traverses the centre of the City through tunnels and locks, under bridges, and behind and beneath buildings, finally flowing under “Spaghetti Junction” – tiers of motorways piled above the waterway. A towpath took us towards Fazeley, but at times we had to come up onto small and major roads, to avoid the very narrow track which passed perilously close to the water’s edge.
Google Maps took us to the Kingsbury Water Park (cafe closed) and thence by towpath and road to Amington for a pub lunch. We got onto the B5493, cycled through Newton Regis and No Man’s Heath and on to Donisthorpe. Moira was next. Before Repton (the ancient capital of Mercia), we had a welcome stop for tea and lemon cake at the Cygnet Tea Rooms, while Marius and Helen changed a flat tire.
We stopped in Findern for a view and guided tour of a Victorian Cottage which Marius and Helen are renovating and which will soon become their new home. Passing the old cooling towers close by, Paul looked out for Peregrines that nest on top. The towers cannot be removed because of their avian residents.
Arriving in Derby, we spent the night as guests of Marius and Helen in the current home, which used to house a paper shop and was also renovated by them over a number of years. We have enjoyed their company over the last four days and very much appreciate their willingness to accompany us and to travel at our (more leisurely) pace.