ycling Microadventure - adventures with sightloss

Shropshire union canal tandem microadventure

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.

Picture shows a canal map of birmingham.
Lots of locks. Each V shape is a lock. We negotiated Aston Locks and Farmers Bridge Locks.

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.

Picture shows our bike loaded with yellow bags next to a bench where John is eating some food. Geese can be seen next to the canal in the background.
A spot of lunch.

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.

A picture taken from roughly where we fell off, hence the muddy pannier. This picture also shows the way we transported our LiteLok silvers using the wearable kit around our pannier bags.

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.

Our tent pitched by the canal with the moon in the background.

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.

Morning coffee with a sunrise.
John eating his breakfast by the bridge

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!

A map showing the route we took.


Looking down on our square, flat tarp set yp towards the grassy dunes out towards the sea.

Wake Up Wild by the sea

We’d hadn’t returned to Winterton Dunes since our epic 30 mile day on our Norfolk Coast Path walk but it’s a place that ticks a lot of boxes for a wild camp: Good views, places to tuck yourself out of view and a cafe!

Wake Up Wild logo

WakeUpWild is an initiative run by SayYesMore to get 2019 people under the stars for a night and to help raise a bit of money for treeaid. See a little more about it here or head to Wake Up Wild on Facebook to see if there’s a camp coming up near you.

The setting sun behind the dunes
7.30pm the sun is low, but gave enough light for us to find a camping spot

We arrived in Winterton at about 7.30pm. Plenty of light to find a camping spot but the number of dog walkers was starting to dwindle- perfect!

John is stood on the flat camping area
John is pretty good at using his walking pole or cane to decide whether an area is flat enough for sleeping
At night, a light lights up John who is setting up his bed for the night
Setting up camp for the night

We set up our tarp, had a cider and chatted until it was time to sleep. This is when we realised that summer and winter has a big difference we hadn’t even considered. Not the warmer weather, not the longer earlier mornings, nope, the bugs! All night we were bombarded and ‘bugged’ by flying bitey things – but the sun poking through the clouds in the morning was well worthwhile.

In the distance sunrays beam out of the clouds reflecting on the sea

Bite count: Lauren: 16. John: 8. We must remember the insect repellent next time!

Take a look at the video from the campout