This is a pleasant off-road cycling route using some of the local canal paths and dedicated cycle lanes. Main features include the Etruria Industrial Museum, Westport Lake and of course Bathpool Park itself.
The terrain is mostly smooth and elevation pretty flat, so would suit a beginner or someone just wanting to ride a more gentle off-road route. There is one quite steep descent just before joining the canal so beginners may want to walk this section.
The route starts on the former Stoke-Market Drayton Railway Line which is now a dedicated cycle lane called the Newcastle Greenway. It’s a nice wide flat, smooth path and well sign-posted. On this ride you will only be riding on the last section of the cycle lane. However, I have another off-road route which uses most of the cycle lane here Silverdale Country Park
After a short distance the lane goes through a tunnel and you pass through a style and leave the Newcastle Greenway. Then the route takes a left onto Hempstalls Lane and you follow the road into Wolstanton. Once you reach the High Street turn right down a narrow street called Pitgreen Lane.
At Wade Avenue you can either use the first path on the left and negotiate the steps or continue a little further to the end of the road and use the trail by the fence. Be warned this descent is rather steep and is littered with pot holes, you will also need to avoid the steps near the bottom.
At the bottom of the descent you go under a bridge then up a short, steep, loose climb and join the canal path. This path follows the Trent & Mersey Canal from Etruria to Kidsgrove and forms the National Cycle Network Route 555. They have recently redesigned all the signs along the canal path including a new map which I think is quite good.
Of particular note is Middleport Pottery, one of only a handful of Stoke On Trent’s pottery factories that is still producing ceramics today. It was built in 1888 for the local company Burgess & Leigh Limited and is now a Grade II listed building. In 2014 the site was reopened after being refurbished by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and now includes a visitor centre, shop, cafe, activity areas, workshops and offices for creative businesses. Occasionally you may also get to see Swans swimming on the water and possibly even a Heron.
As the path meanders it’s way along the canal you can cruise along at a good pace. However, please be aware that pedestrians, dog walkers and fisherman also use this path regularly. Also be very careful when going under any of the bridges because the towpath becomes very narrow and there is a chance of colliding with a pedestrian. For this reason I usually come off the towpath on the left and then rejoin it after the bridge.
After approximately a mile we reach Westport Lake. The site is a great place for bird watchers, walkers, nature lovers and families. The Westport Lake Visitor Centre has a friendly cafe, toilets and a balcony offering panoramic views of the water.
The route continues straight on along the canal path for about another ½ mile before crossing a bridge and then a short incline up to Chatterley Road. You take a left here and then left again at the small roundabout. Staying on the cycle lane/shared use footpath you pass the huge JCB works and then continue on road for about ¼ mile.
On the sharp left bend the entrance to Bathpool Park can be seen on the other side of the road. Please take care crossing this road as it’s quite busy and drivers won’t be able to see you very well coming around the bend. As you pass through the small car park you can see the start of the cycle lane on the other side.
You then continue on National Cycle Network Route 555 and enjoy the smooth, fast surface and views across the water and surrounding woodlands. After a pleasant ½ mile ride alongside the lake we leave the park and continue on road. Halfway along Ravenscliffe Road there is a short, but very steep climb and a sharp bend, so be aware of traffic coming the other way.
You then go straight across the crossroads, through some traffic lights and immediately turn right onto National Cycle Network Route 5. This is another excellent dedicated cycle lane passing through woodlands and open areas of countryside. After a short time on the trail you pass through Goldenhill Tunnel. There is no lighting in this tunnel but during the summer there is just enough natural light to cycle through it safely. However, in the winter I would recommend having a front light fitted.
The trail surface is relatively smooth but there is a gentle incline for about a mile before it flattens out again. After about another mile or so the cycle lane splits off in two directions and you will take the left-hand track. At the bottom of the hill go through the tunnel and take the trail on the right. Following the cycle way signs, cross at the traffic lights and up the short, steep climb.
This next section could be easy to miss without a map or GPS. You cross over the main road and then take the immediate left side road and then immediate right back onto the cycle lane. This section of Route 5 is known as the Tunstall Greenway and is either flat or downhill so you can roll along at a really good speed. Towards the end of the track is another short section of tunnel, as you come out the other side continue straight on pass the College.
The cycle lane rejoins the road where you just need to follow the signs back to Westport Lake. The last section of the cycle lane is all downhill and quite fun, but be careful of the low level styles at the bottom. After going through another short tunnel follow the path over the bridge and swing sharply around to your left back onto the towpath.
You then stay on the towpath for the next 2 or 3 miles passing the point where you joined it at the start of the route. Eventually you will come across Etruria Junction and Etruria Industrial Museum. You may like to know the visitor centre has a tea room, terrace and toilets which makes for a good pit stop.
The route continues for a short while on the canal path before joining the main road. You then just follow the cycle lane all the way back into Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
Other Routes in the area
Chatterley Whitfield Country Park & Biddulph Valley Way