Liverpool-Leeds Canal in December?

Dontgotomaine

New Member
Hello, I'm looking to get your opinions on potentially riding the Liverpool-Leeds canal in December. I will be in town to see LFC-Leeds on 26-DEC, and was considering doing the route over a couple days, starting on 28-DEC. I have a friend in Leeds that I will be spending NYE with, which is why this would be so convenient. I am from Southern California, so weather doesn't really exist here. I have hiked much of the Sierras in poor weather, so I am used to the elements to an extent, but I just want to make sure I am not being naïve and setting myself up for failure. I understand snow would be a deal-breaker, but I would be up for the challenge in drizzly and mildly miserable weather. I'd appreciate anybody's feedback!

-Kevin
 

cougie uk

Über Member
What bike would you be on ? Some bits are mud and grass. December could well be very muddy. And you won't have a huge amount of daylight.

In the summer it would be doable but in the middle of Winter - it's going to be a long slog.
 
I ride on canal towpaths a lot - and quite close to the Leeds-Liverpool
I agree that you will have to negotiate a lot of muddy puddles
You will probably be better of with tyres which find some grip in these conditions - my hybrid road tyre get rather 'interesting' when it gets muddy!

It will also be rainy, cold and generally miserable - you may get lucky and get a day or two of cold dry and still - but it ain't likely!!!
it might also get cold - hence the muddy bits and puddles could freeze - and tow paths can slope at time - possibly towards the canal - just so you know
Hence - you need clothes that can cope with this - basically everything - but proper snow is unlikely except on the tops


basically we probably do miserable depressing weather better than anywhere you have ever delt with - just be prepared because the views and scenery will be amazing!
 
OP
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Dontgotomaine

New Member
What bike would you be on ? Some bits are mud and grass. December could well be very muddy. And you won't have a huge amount of daylight.

In the summer it would be doable but in the middle of Winter - it's going to be a long slog.
I would be working with a bike hire, so I have a few options. My first choice would be a Trek hybrid, because that's what I've ben riding consistently the last ten+ years, but I would understand the need for a mountain bike.
I am also hearing about the continuing improvements to the path, but it still sounds like mud is a consistent issue.
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
Listen to @ebikeerwidnes

"Up for the challenge in drizzly and mildly miserable weather" if you're lucky!!!!

We live in a beautiful country and Lancashire and Yorkshire through which much of the canal makes its way are two of the most wonderful counties we have. However it's hugely difficult to predict British weather but if I was planning this trip I would set up for and be prepared to be cold, wet, muddy and frankly miserable. I live in a village on the edge of the canal, if I go west there's about 1.5 miles I wouldn't want to ride after a prolonged wet period, if I go east about a mile and this is within ten minutes of my home.

Your bike choice will be important. I would go with a gravel bike, full mudguards and 35-40mm tyres.

You mentioned snow as a deal breaker. It's unlikely you'll encounter snow at that time of year. The canal is at relatively low level and while it does get snow heavy falls aren't common.
 
OP
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Dontgotomaine

New Member
I ride on canal towpaths a lot - and quite close to the Leeds-Liverpool
I agree that you will have to negotiate a lot of muddy puddles
You will probably be better of with tyres which find some grip in these conditions - my hybrid road tyre get rather 'interesting' when it gets muddy!

It will also be rainy, cold and generally miserable - you may get lucky and get a day or two of cold dry and still - but it ain't likely!!!
it might also get cold - hence the muddy bits and puddles could freeze - and tow paths can slope at time - possibly towards the canal - just so you know
Hence - you need clothes that can cope with this - basically everything - but proper snow is unlikely except on the tops


basically we probably do miserable depressing weather better than anywhere you have ever delt with - just be prepared because the views and scenery will be amazing!
Thanks for your feedback. I'm very torn as to whether is overtly ambitious for this time of year. Sounds like I will experience my fair share of issues, but I am open to the physical and mental challenge.
Alternately, I could consider taking the Trans Pennine Trail from Liverpool to Sheffield, then head north from there to Leeds. According to the Sustrans maps, there appears to be traffic-free cycle paths the entire way. Won't cut down on the miserable weather, but maybe will cut down on the puddles and mud?
 

presta

Veteran
I can vouch for the mud being slippery, I went for a trip at Skipton. Fortunately I went head first down the grass embankment instead of into the drink, and landed upside down in the rhododendrons with the bike on top of me. ^_^
 
In the week between Christmas and New Year, sunrise in this part of England is around 8.30am and sunset is before 4pm. 'Good' visibility, of the sort you need to negotiate a narrow, muddy slippery path running alongside water, is not gained until significantly after, and is lost significantly before, those times, especially at that time of year.

If the clouds are low at that time of year - which they often are - it can sometimes seem as if it only starts to get properly light in late morning, and starts going dark again shortly after what is commonly known in Yorkshire and Lancashire as dinner time - and by that I don't mean the sort of dinnertime common in much of the rest of the world, but rather about 1 pm ...
On average in Leeds, there will be rain on 20 days in December; in Liverpool, on 19 days. Of course that doesn't mean it will rain all day for 20 days in December - but you definitely run the risk that it will rain for several hours every day for a week.

It might be clear bright weather for a week; if so, at that time of year it will likely be accompanied by frost, especially once out of the cities, and muddy towpaths frozen into ice rinks bordered by rock-hard ruts and ridges of frozen mud while grassy towpaths will be even more wonderfully slideable.

Not that I'm trying to put you off or anything, just being realistic ... I love riding the canal towpaths; I have access to the towpath within a few minutes of my home.

I also recommend you keep an eye on canalrivertrust.org.uk where you can find information about planned closures of navigation and towpaths; a lot of maintenance work is carried out in the winter months when the canals are not as heavily used, and being aware of stoppages and closures is advisable.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
 
Location
London
Beautiful bit of the country and one christmas day a few years ago I did ride very short bit of the Leeds Liverpool but I wouldn't do a trip of any length on it at that time of the year.
Instead I'd check out
https://cycle.travel/map
and come up with a nice on-road route - you can always pop to the canal at points for a look. At locks etc.

In the meantime if you want to enjoy British canals I'd check out the wonderful Foxes Afloat guided by a couple of Yorkshire chaps.

Bit of the Leeds Liverpool here I know quite well.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc9L7yOw8zE


very recently sold the Fox apparently pending a new build.
 
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DRM

Guru
Location
West Yorks
The bit into the city centre is a nice tarmac surface, however which part of Leeds does you friend live in as it’s a large city, and the suburbs spread even further afield, the stadium at Elland road is in South Leeds, as is the canal, however if your friend is in North Leeds or even some of the out lying areas it could be a heck of ride for someone unfamiliar with the city to get from the canal to their house, weather wise it’ll be cold and damp, it may not seem it when looking at average temperatures but the damp really does make it miserable at times, especially compared with California, as mentioned earlier it’s going to be dark in the mornings and early in the evenings too
 
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According to the Sustrans maps, there appears to be traffic-free cycle paths the entire way. Won't cut down on the miserable weather, but maybe will cut down on the puddles and mud?
It is highly unlikely to cut down on anything but your speed of travel.

'Traffic-free cycle paths' are not necessarily free of puddles and mud - far from it. Every single grass or earthen bridleway in England and Wales could be described as a traffic-free cycle path; many stretches of the TPT are shared with horseriders, and all of it with walkers. Neither horseriders nor walkers actually prefer to travel long distances on foot on tarmac or concrete...
In addition, large stretches of the TPT pass through areas where there have long been what I will describe as access issues - in that off-road, often unlicensed motorbikes and the like vehicles make, or attempt to make, frequent incursions, causing damage, disruption and even danger. Hence there are concerted efforts to prevent access by other than legitimate users - as of course is proper.

Unfortunately this means that intrusive barriers - which are constructed so as to permit the legitimate user through, but not the illegal one - abound. These barriers provide various degrees of difficulty - sometimes at the level of impossible - for the loaded bike, the trike, the tandem, the trailer, the independent person with a disability etc etc to pass through. The horse barriers can make it difficult or impossible for a tiny pony, someone leading a second horse, one nervous in confined spaces etc.

If you go to the TPT maps here and click on the symbols on the maps, you can see photos and read descriptions of the access barriers - and see how very frequent they are in many places! You will also see the conditions of the paths, they vary from tarmac to compacted stone to grass and earth.

Also bear in mind that neither the TPT nor the L-L towpath are intended, or engineered, for high speeds and in many places, especially where the surface is good and you might otherwise think you can get a move on, might - at least at certain times of the day - be busy with locals using them for their own leisure purposes.

I agree with @Blue Hills above - plan yourself an on-road route using cycle.travel/map and make some diversions along the canal at places where there's something of interest, the towpath is good and there's a couple of decent pubs.
 

T4tomo

Guru
Get the train to Morecambe, follow the Way of the Roses cycle route to York, train to Leeds, or some variation of that - you could strike south on small road towards say Otley and train into Leeds from there.

that is an on road route but on quiet roads, and wont be covered in Mud or families strung out across a tow path on an Xmas family walk.
cycling on towpaths for any distance is not a good idea, especially in winter.
 
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