- Route: Oxford to Derby via Leicester plus Derby to Nottingham link
- Distance: 148 miles. 84 miles are traffic-free
- National Cycle Network: Route 6 and 51
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 hiller route between Market Harborough and Leicester if you want more of a challenge.
Places to stay
Bed for cyclists shows bike friendly places to stay on or near the route.
Things to see and do
- National Bowl, Milton Keynes
- National Space & Science Centre, Leicester
- Foxton Locks & Canal Museum.
Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.
A route through the heart of England, undulating farmlands and market towns, linking major cities of Derby, Leicester, historic Oxford and modern Milton Keynes.