Conclusions and Getting Home
So which is best – the TPT or the A61? Well, the A61 is certainly quicker if you’re on a road bike. What stunned me about this road was the total lack of consideration for cycles all the way along it. It’s certainly perfect for those who believe that cycle lanes make roads more dangerous and discourage cycling. Personally I find that the endless buzz of traffic on your right ear wears you out eventually. I see nothing wrong with taking to the pavement in rural areas when the traffic speed and density gets stressful, and there are sections of this road where this is what I would do. It doesn’t take much of a mistake on the part of a driver doing 60 (who is likely to be talking on a mobile, lighting a fag and adjusting the radio all at the same time) to kill you.
This section of the Trans-Pennine Trail, on the other hand, is relatively peaceful and some parts are very scenic. Because it passes the fringes of towns which are themselves not at the top of the economic tree, some parts can appear desolate and possibly threatening to solo riders – although I didn’t feel threatened at all, I might have felt differently if I were female. A lot of resources have gone into creating the trail, and it is a tremendous achievement – I do wonder, however, what the benefits might have been if that money had been spent on providing cycling facilities in the areas where people live, work and shop. We need both types of routes, of course, but in this case the lack of provision on the area’s main “local” route was staggering.
I’m a Cyclist Get Me Out of Here!
A note on trains out of Leeds back to Sheffield. They have given up trying to produce a timetable for these, and the boards just say “At regular intervals”. Very helpful. There are three main services:- The route via Barnsley, which if you take the stopping train, takes forever, but is quite fast on the lightly used “semi-fast” services, which have lots of room for bikes and go through to Nottingham; The “Dearne Valley” route which is faster ; Intercity services run by Arriva Cross-Country (XC-fairly frequent) and East Midlands Trains (EM- there aren’t many of these) On all these trains you can take your bike for free, subject to space; both XC and East Midlands require bike reservations. (just between ourselves, now that the gloss has worn off the XC refurb of Virgin’s Voyager tin cans, they’re not bothered.) The Guards van on EM is at the far end of Standard accommodation on their High Speed Trains. On XC ‘s new “Voyager” trains the bike space is in the middle of the train. The Wetherspoons in the station concourse isn’t too bad, and you can park your bike outside and keep an eye on it as you have a drink. The Scarborough Arms opposite the station is also pretty good.
Get out there and enjoy yourself.
For more information about the North of England and the rivalrys that exist here we recommend Stuart Maconie’s book “Pies and Prejudice”.