This route uses canals, cycle lanes and bridleways to form an enjoyable cross-country Mountain Bike ride. Highlights of the ride include an excellent woodland descent near Lightwood and off-road trails at Downs Banks.
I have started this ride on the Newcastle Greenway Cycle Lane which is easily accessible from anywhere in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.You then continue on a cycle lane through Brampton Sidings and Station Walks before joining Shelton New Road. After a short incline you will go through a set of traffic lights and then head down a fast road descent. When you cross over the bridge at the bottom of the descent take a sharp right at the traffic lights onto a housing estate.
Follow the road round to the left and go through the gap in the hedgerow. You are now on the Trent & Mersey Canal, take a right and follow the canal path. The surface is generally smooth and well maintained so you can cruise along at a nice pace, but be aware of pedestrians as they have priority. After about 3½ miles you will leave the canal path and join Longton Road. Use the channel that runs up the side of the steps to push the bike up.
Then cross over to the other side of Longton road and get on the cycle lane at the edge of the road. Stay on this lane following the road as it gradually climbs up towards Longton. After about 1.8 miles keep an eye out for Longton Park on your right. Once you see the sign for the park take a sharp right off the road and enter the park.
Take the path on the right and follow this around the edge of the water. The park is full of colourful flowers and the large ponds support a variety of bird life. It is a very pleasant place to cycle through and a welcome contrast to stoke-on-trent’s usual gloomy surroundings.
When you reach the exit of the park take a right and then a left onto a cycle path called the Florence Greenway. After a short section on the path take the exit on the right onto a housing estate. Bear right onto Durham Drive then left onto Hampshire Crescent. Follow the road around to the left and then go down the cul-de-sac called Romney Grove.
At the end of the cul-de-sac is a style which marks the start of another off-road cycle path. Go through the style and take the path on the right. Follow this smooth path as it gradually climbs up and round to the left. As you continue to climb you will see another gravel track on your left. Take this track and climb to the top of the hill and into the woods.
At this point you are quite high up and it provides quite good views of the surrounding area. You then get to enjoy a fantastic long and fast descent through the woodland. Make sure to follow the trail around to the right until you reach a small car park. At the car park take a left until you eventually join the main road. Take a right and start the long road climb through Lightwood.
Although this climb isn’t particularly steep it still requires quite a bit of effort to keep moving forward. When you reach a series of small roundabouts and junctions continue straight over these and start the long descent down the A520. After about 1¾ miles take the turning on the right onto Old Road. Continue along this for about ½ mile before turning right onto a narrow lane. Go to the end of the lane and join the bridleway.
This is a great bridleway with a good hard pack base allowing you to descend at good speed. When you come to a junction take the track on the left and go through the gate. The trail then descends over a rooty section and continues through the woodland. There is a few other dedicated off-road cycling trails that radiate from the main route. However, be warned they are quite steep in places!.
As you exit the park take a right and then cross a small, shallow stream. If the level of the stream is high or you just don’t feel confident about crossing it by bike there is a footbridge you can take instead. The route continues on road for a short period, before taking a sharp right back onto the canal when you reach the bridge.
The canal is quite pleasant to cycle along, particularly in the summer when it’s all very lush and green. Also keep an eye out for swans and herons in the water. There may be the occasional walker or fisherman but it’s generally pretty quiet. Take care on this section of the canal as some of the bridges are very low, so you may need to dip your head a little if your 6ft+ tall.
The route continues on the canal path for about another 3 miles before you take a left up some stairs and onto a cycle lane. At the end of this you will take a left onto New Inn Lane and then a right onto the cycle lane Longton Brooke Greenway. This is a nice little off-road path that passes through Trentham cutting out all the busy roads.
Turn left at the end of this and cross over using the Toucan crossing. Turn right and continue on the shared cycle/footway until you reach the traffic lights. Turn left here and follow the road for about ½ mile then turn right onto Northwood Lane. The road will begin to climb and after a few hundred metres kicks up really steeply.
After about ¼ mile you will come to a roundabout, take the 3rd exit and continue down Clayton road until you come to another roundabout. Take care here as it’s quite a busy roundabout. Come off at the 3rd exit and head downhill for about ½ mile. Just after the cricket grounds keep an eye out on the left for a cycle path marked Lyme Valley Parkway.
This is a pleasant, smooth, flat cycle path which follows the Lyme Valley Brook all way into Newcastle-Under-Lyme. When you reach Homebase go straight over the road and continue on the cycle path. Go past Morrisons then straight over the road and continue on the path that runs to the left of Aldi’s car park.
You will then come to another minor road, cross straight over and continue on the cycle lane for about 250 metres. Take the exit on the right and walk across the pedestrian crossing. Continue on bike down the signposted cycle lane and take a sharp left when you reach the road. Go left at the junction, then left again across the pedestrian crossing then turn right down Ashfields New Road. At the end of the road go onto the path, through the style and rejoin the Newcastle Greenway.