Route 6

Route Description

The route is described here from London to Threlkeld but is signed in both directions.

The route is currently 390 miles long.

Route sections

1. London to Uxbridge
National Route 6 will provide a traffic-free route out of central London to the Home Counties border. The route is proposed to run via Charing Cross and Paddington stations and then along the Grand Union Canal. The stretch along the canal between Paddington and Northolt is presently open as a non-NCN local route.

2. Uxbridge to Watford
The route begins again on the Grand Union Canal near Brunel University following the Grand Union Canal and Colne Valley on mainly traffic-free routes. The Ebury Way from Rickmansworth is traffic-free into central Watford.

Map: London Cycling Guides 6 and 3: order free from Transport for London.

3. Watford to Luton
National Route 6 continues via St Albans on a mixture of traffic-free paths and on-road sections to Harpenden, and then traffic-free alongside the River Lea to Luton.

4. Luton to Milton Keynes
Following traffic-free paths and the Sewell Greenway out of Luton, National Route 6 continues on-road to Leighton Buzzard. A lovely route along the Grand Union Canal towpath then joins Leighton Buzzard with Bletchley, continuing on mainly traffic-free paths through the east of Milton Keynes.

5. Milton Keynes to Derby
Milton Keynes connects with Derby via Leicester and Loughborough and includes the 16-mile Brampton Valley Way between Northampton and Market Harborough. This section is also part of the South Midlands cycle route. Look out for an excellent traffic-free section through central Leicester and the 13-mile Cloud Trail between Worthington and Derby.

6. Derby to Sheffield
National Route 6 links the urban areas of Derby, Long Eaton, Beeston and Nottingham before heading through Sherwood Forest to Worksop and on to Sheffield via the Rother Valley Country Park. The route forms part of the Derby to York cycle route.

7. Sheffield to Castleton (Derbyshire)
The route follows the Peak Park Anniversary route from Sheffield Rail Station out to the Hope Valley via Ringinglow and the southern edge of Ladybower Reservoir. There are two sections of noteable traffic-free: one along Porter Brook between Bingham Park and Carr Bridge; and the other across the Ladybower Reservoir dam and then south to Thornhill along the path of the old railway line constructed to provide materials for the dam. National Route 6 here is currently signed as far as Castleton.

8. Castleton to Marple
National Route 6 is proposed to run from Castleton up the closed Mam Tor road, continuing over the Pennines, then through to Chinley on minor roads. From Buxworth the route will follow the towing path of the Peak Forest Canal as far as Marple where it meets open sections of National Route 55 (top of Middlewood Way). 

9. [Oughtibridge to Penistone]
Sheffield to Oughtibridge is proposed along the Don Valley and to be signed as National Route 627. However, from Oughtibridge to Penistone National Route 6 forms an unconnected part of the Trans Pennine Trail (Central) along the Upper Don Trail.

10. Marple to Reddish
The route follows the course of National Route 55 to Portwood, outside Stockport, to where it meets National Route 62heading east along a traffic-free section of the Trans Pennine Trail (West) to Reddish (Greater Manchester).

11. Reddish to Bury
National Route 6 resumes at Reddish and enters Manchester via the traffic-free Fallowfield Loop Line and then on residential streets through Whalley Range into the city centre. Heading towards Bury the route follows much of the Irwell Sculpture Trail.

Maps: Transport for Greater Manchester has cycle maps covering Bury and Manchester as well as other parts of Greater Manchester.

12. Bury to Blackburn
Bury and Accrington are linked via on-road and traffic-free sections of the old East Lancashire railway path. Accrington to Blackburn follows the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

13. Blackburn to Preston
The route is still being developed here but exists from Blackburn to Pleasington Rail Station, travelling through Witton Country Park.  It resumes along the River Ribble from Samlesbury (near Junction 31 M6) leading into central Preston.

14. Preston to Kendal 
Heading out of Preston National Route 6 follows country roads through the Lancashire countryside to the Lune Estuary from where the Lune Estuary path follows the estuary into Lancaster city centre. North of Lancaster Route 6 follows the towpath along the Lancaster Canal to Carnforth, from where the route follows minor roads into Kendal.

15. Kendal to Keswick
Some sections of National Route 6 in Cumbria are still being developed. The route is currently open between Kendal and Windermere, continuing part-way to Ambleside following a gap through central Windemere. At Steel End at the southern end of Thirlmere the route begins again and continues to Threlkeld. From here Route 71 along an old railway path links the 4 miles to Keswick.

Related maps

Route Diversions/Closures

In Preston, the bridge across the River Ribble is closed due to structural issues. A new replacement bridge is required, however there is no definite timescale for this to take place.  Diversions are in place which use an alternative bridge crossing downstream of the closure.

In Manchester, the bridge across the River Irwell is closed due to the construction of a new rail link that connects Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly. This project is complete but the bridge remains closed. No confirmed date for opening of the bridge has been released by Manchester Council/Salford Council.

To make sure everyone gets the most out of their time by the water, please ensure that you follow the Towpath Code.

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Map covers the Peak District National Park

National Route 6 passes through Watford, Luton, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Worksop, Sheffield, Manchester, Blackburn, Preston, Lancaster, Kendal and Windermere, and will connect London and Threlkeld (nr. Keswick) in Cumbria when complete.

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