the double Aqueduct ride

the double Aqueduct ride by rOcKeTdOgUk
the double Aqueduct ride, a photo by rOcKeTdOgUk on Flickr.

I wanted to do a decent length ride today as the weather forecast looked horrible for tomorrow and i didn’t think i would want to be out in it so taking the MTB i did 12 miles of road to Dickens Heath and the I-crave cafe for some lunch then joined the north stratford canal and headed down to Kingswood junction in Lapworth. there i turned onto the south Stratford canal. This canal is less used than the grand union from which it splits and you could soon tell this as the towpath deteriorated somewhat. It went from well used hard pack with a clear line to a very rough vague grassy track, Luckily it was mostly still firm despite the recent rain, although there were some sticky bits. it was also very rough in places especially where in an effort to lessen the muddy patches house bricks had been laid down, definitely not a route for a hybrid bike, MTB is essential. As i got to the area between Claverdon and Henley and negotiated the road bridge there (the towpath leaves the canal and goes over a quiet road momentarily before rejoining) I noticed a no cycling sign on the gate to the next section of towpath. Well, what to do? I like to obey laws but really, no cycling on a towpath where its ok to lead a horse? and i could see around 1.5 miles of completely empty canal and towpath? i decided to carry on riding and that i’d dismount if i encountered any reason no to be pedalling. I then came across the first aqueduct at wootten wawen and realised this could have been the reason for the no cycling signs, even though it was about 4 miles from the sign i think that there’s actually no other access until the crossing so safety first! the reason for the ban on cyclists must be because on the side away from the water there is quite a low fence and when you are sat in the saddle you are actually higher than the top of it, the towpath ia quite narrow and one steering error could have you over the fence with about a 40ft drop to the busy road below. the no cycling signs continued again and i did wonder if i’d got my reasoning wrong until i got to another aqueduct, this one i wasn’t expecting, almost three times as long as the first one but with just a perilous drop. no signs beyond this and in fact about 5 miles further on the towpath becomes an official cycle path which i followed all the way into Stratford on Avon.
Stratford was a bit of a shock after seeing only 3-4 people in the previous 2.5 hours i was sunddenly in the midst of thousands, To be honest it was awful and i was soon making my way out of the town towards Mary Arden’s house, but of a long uphill slog but worth it to avoid busy roads. Using back roads and going via Temple Grafton i made it to Alcester and stopped for a coffee. time was getting on and i was concious of not having any lights so i didn’t linger, road via the ford at Coughton Court, up to Astwood Bank and then home. All in all a great day out with some cool discoveries, the weather played ball, i was in shirt sleeves most of the time and although my legs were feeling the effects (knobbly tyres are great for the canal but draggy and energy sapping on tarmac) i had energy to spare at the end
ride 117
53 miles
total 2477
Sept 163
commute 1013

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