We had an adventure planned. The specification was a 2 day, 1 wild camp tandem ride to give our kit a bit of a test. We wanted decent paths, so opted to stick to the National Cycle Network. After a bit of research we decided to head towards Shropshire from John’s home town of Birmingham, a route which would mostly follow canal tow paths (great for finding camping spots).
The first 5 miles of our trip were hard work. Quite early on we found that a speed wobble into the side of a narrow bridge might cause us to lose our kit ‘overboard’ so we took things a little more carefully. An uphill lock system slowed us down. We rode what we could, but the steep, punchy and often bumpy climbs got the better off us sometimes and if there was a tight turn or narrowing involved, we just pushed up instead.
In the first few miles, we saw 2 kingfishers and 3 Heron, which was pretty cool considering we were in the centre of Birmingham.
We continued along the Towpath until we reached Wolverhampton. Up until this point, our route was pretty good. We stopped for some lunch, a curry we heated up in it’s own pouch. Delicious.
From here Komoot, the navigation app, got into a pickle, and to be honest, so did we. An hour of pootling around got us back on track but it was pretty frustrating. It was also at this time we realised the cycle network can be a bit weird! Taking shortcuts through muddy fields or ‘longcuts’ that bypass perfectly good towpath for busy roads and muddy paths. On one such detour we hit a patch of wet grass – the marathon supremes that had given us so much confidence in summer slid out from under us spectacularly. We were ok – we both took a knock – Lauren to the head and John to the shoulder but after a short break we were back on the bike.
We continued on, noting all the great camping spots along the way. There are lots alongside the canal. After a while, we joined the road, a nice change of scenery and found ourselves a Petrol Station with a subway. We loaded ourselves up with food and looked at our progress and plans. We hadn’t made as much progress as we’d liked, the terrain had a lot to do with that – whenever the path got muddy, we had to be super careful – and it was going to get dark soon. Rather than push on and potentially struggle to find a nice camp for the night, we decided head back to a lovely spot we’d found a few miles back. We got there just as it got dark, set up camp and made some dinner.
Considering we were close to a village, the area we had camped was quite and undisturbed and a bridge offered us some protection from the wind. As usual, Johh made the beds inside while Lauren got cooking. A feast of Pasta and Sausages. Unfortunately one load of pasta fell onto the floor after a straining incident and the whole thing cost us dearly in terms of fuel and water. We had to have a vote on what we would use our remaining fuel and water on in the morning and forfit our hot chocolate but somehow we eeked enough out for a hot breakfast and a coffee.
We made steady progress back to Birmingham, avoiding the dodgy bits of path we’d already learnt of and finding new bits too, including a 350m tunnel, gates to lift over and a set of stairs! We wanted an adventure, and it’s certainly what we got!