South Midlands

A route through the heart of England, undulating farmlands and market towns, linking major cities of Derby, Leicester, historic Oxford and modern Milton Keynes.

A route through the heart of England, undulating farmlands and market towns, linking major cities of Derby, Leicester, historic Oxford and modern Milton Keynes. This is John Betjeman’s England which remains rich with rolling pastorales, Norman churches, and the ancient inns of coaching towns.

The route uses four railway lines that did not survive the Beeching railways axe, and now form memorable sections of the cycle route. You can cycle without traffic along the Brampton Valley Way between Northampton and Market Harborough, into and out of the city centre of Leicester and from Worthington up to Derby.

There are several meandering towpaths, including one near Foxton’s famous locks in southern Leicestershire. But this is also England-on-the-Hoof. Confident business and academic centres along the way are busy inventing the 21st century, and their towns and cities are bright with life. Leicester’s National Space and Science Centre, right by the route where you can enjoy a different kind of voyage before hitting the cycle ways again.

Look out for two dark tunnels between Northampton and Market Harborough where lights and, some say, strong nerves are essential - if you don't have lights then be extra careful.

The route follows:

  • National Route 51 between Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • National Route 6 between Milton Keynes and Derby with links to Nottingham

You can take National Route 64 an alternative, but hillier route between Market Harborough and Leicester if you want more of a challenge.

Please note

We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.

Please help us to protect this route

The South Midlands route is part of the National Cycle Network, cared for by Sustrans. Your donation today will help keep the Network safe and open for everyone to enjoy.

Share this page