About 12 miles.
A Sustrans recommended ride around the less well-frequented North-East of the city.
Sheffield’s airport has closed and is being developed into a University campus. Meanwhile, RHADS (Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield) makes a loss of around £1m a month. It seems that the appetite for flying that the government wants to encourage, in direct contravention of its own climate change policies, is not very sharp in South Yorkshire. Anyway, enough eco-ranting. This is a mostly off-road ride of approximately 2 hours that takes in some lesser known locations to the east of the city. An MTB or rugged hybrid is recommended for this ride.
From Blonk St, Sheffield, take the Five Weirs Walk NCN Route 6. When you reach Carbrook St (about 4 miles), turn right to follow NCN route 67 towards Darnall. Crossing Attercliffe Common (a tarmac common) this takes you past the Centretainment complex (note bollards to prevent motorists parking on the cycleway, put in after much campaigning by Sheffield cycle groups) cross Broughton Lane by Sheffield Arena, then turn left. Cross the canal, turn left on Tinsley Park Rd through the road closure (this area is frequently used for fly-tipping so can be a bit unsavoury. Watch for glass, and report problems to Streets Ahead. ) At the top, cross Shepcote Rd and continue, either off-road or on, up Europa Link (look out for Letsby Avenue near the police station/helicopter park – runs parallel to Europa Link.) This road does not carry as much traffic as was intended, following the closure of the airport, so you can either cycle on the shared use path or on-road, which you may find more comfortable asa there is tree root damage on the pavement.
You will pass the former airport terminal, then look out for an access point on the right. (A route through the bus gate to Rotherham is on the left) Don’t worry if you miss it as you can get back on the Trail at the next roundabout, although you will miss some quite nice bluebell woods.
This takes you to the new roundabout at Waverley – if you follow the off-road route under the Parkway you will come to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, or Factory of the Future, with its distinctive and elegant wind turbines. This a joint venture between the University of Sheffield and Boeing and there are more developments coming. You are near the site of the Battle of Orgreave during the miner’s strike of the 1980’s. There is an off-road cycle route from the new Waverley development to Handsworth Rd.
Continuing on NCN67 however, (it’s quite clearly signposted) you pass the former airport runway on your right and Tinsley golf course on your left. You emerge at the top end of High Hazels Park, Darnall. Follow the route through the park and up to Handsworth Rd, where you turn left, cross the railway and turn right (Darnall Station isn’t too far away at this point – a link is signed). Follow Handsworth Ave to the end and go through the barriers, veer left for Bowden Housteads Ancient Woodlands, SSI and WildSheffield site.
Follow the trail up to the bridge over the Parkway, and marvel at the mentality of a city that values it’s remnants of ancient woodlands so much that it drives a major highway through them. One wonders whether they would have done the same had it been on the west side of the city. Carry on through the woods and the trail takes you to the point where NCN6 joins, having followed the side of the Parkway on the way to Rother Valley, but you can cut the corner by taking the tarmac path to the right to the Mosborough Parkway junction. Cross the Mosborough Parkway and veer to the right in any case, and follow NCN 6 down to the city centre. On arrival, the Dorothy Pax Cafe/Bar, in Victorian Quays canal basin, is worth a visit.
To reach the station, turn right towards the Blonk St access point where you started, cross the road and turn left to follow the off-road cycle route alongside Sheaf St.