4 New stations have appeared on the Northern network in recent times. I took time out to visit three of them in one day to see what the connectivity with the cycle network was like. The one I missed was Apperley Bridge, simply because I didn’t realise that had opened too!
A mad dash to Sheffield station saw me on the 09:05 to Nottingham, dropping me off at 9:45. Before this station was opened Ilkeston was the largest town in Europe without a rail station, it’s not that long ago that this honour belonged to Mansfield, not that far away. The station can be accessed from station road alongside or a smaller road leading to the drop off point. There is a short section of shared use pavement avoiding a narrow section of road and the station bridge serves as a shared use route as well. Wheeled access to the platforms is by ramps. All day car parking costs £3 – the car park was not well used.
There are a useful cafe and pub nearby and a sign pointing to a cafe in a nearby mill as well. I feel sure that the opening of the station will lead to regeneration in the area.
Once out of the station, a short trip up Station Rd leads to the Erewash canal, a link off route 67, but the access to the canal is by steep steps. An alternative route is via a footpath off Wentworth Rd. This has a good surface going north as far as the edge of town. Heading south, you can get to Trent Junction, or Nottingham or Derby by getting on NCN6 at Long Eaton. There are uncovered cycle stands on the drop off area – no bikes were there although there were plenty of cyclists around. I took the canal up to Langley Mill which took about half an hour at a decent pace, the poor towpath surface slows you down and there are a lot of barriers. There is no signage to the NCN from the station.
It’s always a bit strange to pass through your home town on the train without getting off and this time was no exception. The “Trent – Aire” Nottingham – Leeds train however makes this possible. (One day this may be Trent-Eden or even the Trent-Clyde, who knows…?) I had about 10 minutes in Leeds to grab a coffee and carry on to…
This station is served by Northern Electrics on the Leeds – Ilkley run (you’d need to change for Skipton). The station has already attracted developers with an office complex going up adjacent to the station. Access to NCN66 is on the west side with a good quality path leading to the Leeds-Liverpool towpath – there were a lot of mums with pushchairs using it so it is clearly thought of as being safe. There is no signage to the NCN to or from the station. There was one bike to be seen locked up to the stands and the owner had wisely removed the front wheel and locked it to the frame – you shouldn’t really have to do this when you leave your bike at the station though. Access to the platforms is by lifts. Lifts or ramps are fine by me as a bike-rail user but there is something pleasing about being able to get your bike to the platform under your own power. You shouldn’t be expected to have to carry your bike up and down stairs in this day and age and we have this in common with disabled station users. Car parking at this station is free – the car park was busy but not full. The Kirkstall Bridge pub is nearby should you be in need of refreshment.
Walkers and cyclists peacefully co-exist on Route 66 and it has a good surface as far as Apperley Bridge, where it becomes variable. The link from the canal to the Shipley Greenway is under construction and a little hard to follow. Once on, however, this is a pleasant route through green space leading on to quieter roads as it approaches Bradford City Centre. It’s good to see the long-promised redevelopment of the City Centre has taken place after Bradford was brought to it’s knees by a Tory council under Eric Pickles.
|Aire Valley Greenway (NCN66)||I saw 3 “Bike&Go” users on the Aire Valley Greenway – someone’s using ’em!|
I took the train from Interchange up to Low Moor – the next train out was the Grand Central London service which has a compartment for bikes which is kept locked, but the guard suggested I pop the bike into a flexible space area for this short run, which I did.
This long-awaited station is adjacent to the Spen Valley Greenway, again on NCN66, and while the route is signed all the way out of Bradford you might want to avoid the urban grime and start your walk or bike ride from here. The route is clearly signed from the station – access when I visited was by a short flight of steps but it looks as though a wheeling ramp is under construction. There is covered cycle parking with a Falco stand and 2 bikes were in evidence on my visit. The station is served by infrequent trains on the Huddersfield – Leeds and Grand Central Kings Cross – Bradford routes . Access to the platforms is by lifts. Car parking at this station is free and the car park was about 80% full.
Leaving Low Moor, I had a very pleasant run down the Spen Valley Greenway, including a chat with the local ranger and then linked in with the Spen Valley and Dewsbury and Ossett Greenways – sadly the Dewsbury greenways were in very poor condition, overgrown and litter-strewn. I hadn’t done the Ossett Greenway before and this now leaves only a short section between Ossett and Horbury that you have to do on-road (albeit not a very busy road) before getting onto the “Rhubarb Route” into Wakefield, also part of the Wakefield Wheel. Wakefield cycle routes are iffy but getting to Kirkgate for a Northern “Fast” service isn’t too much of a problem.
|Tunnel on Ossett Greenway||View From Ossett Greenway|
|Part trackway, part road in Ossett||The last remaining sculpture on the Rhubarb Route – the rest have been nicked.|
So which of these stations gets the “Golden Sprocket” award? For my money it’s Low Moor – good quality cycle parking and easy well-signed access to the NCN. It’s just a pity it doesn’t have more train services – I was surprised that Calder Valley services don’t stop there. 2nd prize goes to Kirkstall Forge, 3rd to Ilkeston.