19 valiant riders gathered at the Tap for the off on a close but pleasant evening. Our first section of cycle route was the Peak Park Anniversary Route, also part of NCN6, and our first stop was on Charles St to admire the new pedestrianised area outside a Hallam development. Could this be the diverted route for NCN6? Not until they’ve finished building stuff and sorted out the mess they’ve made around Cambridge St (maybe that will happen as part of the New Retail Quarter?)
Then we admired Barkers Pool, which shows that shared space can work if you have plenty of it, (and you don’t share it with motor vehicles as well) and headed up Division St – such a pity this wasn’t pedestrianised when the council has the opportunity. Heading along the rather narrow cycle route alongside Devonshire Green into the Naked Streets approach of Broomhall St, followed by the segregated cycle route along Broomspring Lane and into the 20mph zone of Broomhall with it’s clever traffic management. Why does the whole thing read like a compendium of street designs?
We turned into Lynwood Gardens, an attractive urban wildlife park with a pub attached that avoids most of the nastiness of Glossop and Clarkehouse roads and headed up Park Lane to get on the western end of Clarkehouse – thankfully no cars parked in the bike lane this evening. Them we bumped up Endcliffe Vale, with it’s “traffic calming” that is designed to encourage cars to speed up to get through the chicanes, and a downhill swoop to the entrance to Bingham Park. Here we left NCN6, and a short dogleg down Rustling Roads got us onto Route 85. This involved a fair amount of climbing which everyone managed fine and we stopped to look at a short section of path at the junction of Dobbin Hill and Grestones Drive which has been widened out to make negotiating this tricky junction easier.
Just a little bit of climbing on Dobbin Hill and we snuck through the churchyard to begin our descent into Abbeydale. A handy little bit of footpath took us into Ecclesall Woods which never disappoint, and the woods were our friend until we popped out on Dore Road. This isn’t a nice road and we were happy to get away from the well-heeled inhabitants of the suburbs with their over-powered vehicles that they drive too fast. A little trip down Water Lane was just the tonic and we gathered at Dore Station to discuss the problems and the opportunities that the Park and Ride and the plans to develop the station had wrought.
We could hardly leave the area without a trip through Hutcliffe Woods, with its “rad” BMX park and we could see that with a little path improvement this could be a very pleasant cycle route. A warm welcome awaited at the Ale House – well it would be a strange pub that turned away 19 thirsty cyclists wouldn’t it?
Refreshed, some members of the group headed either home or on to more Friday Night Fun, while a hardcore of us took the Sheaf Valley Route in the gloaming, taking in the short section of Sheaf Valley Walk near Granville Sq that not everyone knew about, back to the Sheffield Tap, although we were too tired for more than a quick nightcap.
Our star rider was Muriel from Chapeltown by way of Swansea, who hadn’t been on an FNR before, rented a bike from Russell’s Bike Shed and tackled the hills with aplomb.