After three years of cycle touring with Ewan, Iona was inspired to give it a go, this year, for her own little cycling adventure.

Some careful planning completed, trains and campsites booked, the last Friday morning of July found us on Coventry Station platform awaiting an Avanti train to whisk us up to Crewe.

Day One – Crewe to Stoke-on-Trent

Alighting the train with our bikes at Crewe, we found Debra, a friend from our parkrun tourism, who had spotted our post about the adventure on Facebook and joined us for the first part of our ride. Once we’d found our bearings outside the station we headed out of Crewe and then on to the “Salt Line”.

Joining the Trent and Mersey Canal after a short lane stretch, as Debra turned back, we continued on to Kidsgrove where it was time for a pitstop and refuel at Jessie’s Coffee Shop. Re-energised we cruised along the canal towpath through Stoke-on-Trent enjoying the industrial landscape, but then it was time for the sting in the tail of the day’s ride, a tough climb up through Hanchurch Woods before dropping down into Stabelford to the campsite at the Madonna Club, our home for the night.

Tent pitched we enjoyed an Aldi Cucina Tortellini Spinach & Ricotta, which proved an excellent meal, cooked on my ageing Trangia meths stove. Then, showered and refreshed, we brewed hot choc to enjoy before curling up in our sleeping bags, fairy lights twinkling above us! (Yes, I know this is extra weight to carry but it makes the tent feel magical!)

Day Two – Trentham Gardens parkrun and on to Stafford

An early rise and, as we tucked into our first breakfast, at the back of our mind was yesterday’s closing climb which we had to retrace to reach Trentham Gardens, where we were planning to run parkrun. Tent packed, bikes loaded, low gears engaged we churned our legs up the hill, then freewheeled down to arrive at parkrun just in time.

Had we found the most beautiful parkrun in the world? Trentham Gardens parkrun, may well lay claim to this crown. With elegant fairy sculptures as you run round beautiful gardens, meadow flowers and lakeside views this is a parkrun to savour rather than PB chase, so we did, plus we had to ensure our legs weren’t too tired to continue on the day’s ride. 


There was a great choice of breakfast venues in the shopping village just over the bridge from the finish. We hit The Rotisserie and enjoyed a great fry up, before continuing on our cycle touring adventure.

Rejoining the canal, we continued into Stone where a little detour into town brought us to a hidden gem of a cafe, “The Secret Tea Room”. I enjoyed new taste experience, a treacle scone topped with lemon curd and clotted cream, while Iona tucked into a Order brownie, delicious!

I made the mistake of tweaking the proposed Komoot route for our journey to Stafford with the thought that it would be nicer to stick by the canal. But what had been an excellent towpath surface quickly deteriorated for the next section and became narrow, bumpy and overgrown with brambles and nettles, making riding along it “exciting” at times to make sure we didn’t go for an unplanned swim!

As we arrived at the outskirts of Stafford following a short road section, we joined a fabulous cycle path, the Isabel Trail, which is also the home of Iona’s parkrun PB. Today we zipped along it on our bikes and ended up at a great playground in Stafford by the river where we took a welcome break for an ice-cream and some play time before completing the final bit of our day’s riding to end at our campsite, Moors Covert Camping.

A great little campsite and with other youngsters as fellow campers, Iona quickly made friends and met sheep, calves and cows to pet and feed. We tried a boil in the bag pasta bolognese for tea, it got a definite thumbs down from Iona, we won’t be eating that again on future tours! Iona learnt to play Chase the Ace and Sevens with her new friends while I chilled reading the new parkrun magazine.

Day Three – Stafford to Wolverhampton

After a relaxed start to the day, a chance for Iona to spend more time with her new friends while I waited for the tent to dry out a bit after the night’s rain. Then packed and on our way for what should have been an easy day’s ride. However, we quickly came across a challenge, the bridleway was completely blocked by gates with a garnish of nettles and I was left with no choice but to take off all our bags and lift over two sets of gates, Iona and I both getting some stings in the process.

Fortunately, the route then joined the road and after a stop for sustenance from Warren’s Bistro, Penkridge which we enjoyed sitting in the park, we pressed on into Wolverhampton. The last mile was along the canal before, finally, the welcome site of Wolverhampton Station, Iona’s first cycle tour complete!

We hope you enjoy the film of our adventure, please like and subscribe to our Little Adventure YouTube channel, where we will be sharing more adventures soon.

Details of our routes can be found on Komoot: