Sheffield to Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds
(Warning: contains attempts at humour)
Ah Leeds, so much to answer for…. Sheffielders live in fear of their big brother up north. Somehow, it gets all the presents, Harvey Nicks, the Regional Government that didn’t happen, the motorways that have torn the city apart, the Cycling Superhighways, the high-speed trains – it even got Eurostars for a bit (they only went as far as Kings Cross though, not Paris as was originally planned, and Eurostar have got them back now. Paris is now a cross-platform connection for Sheffielders, whilst Leodians have to schlepp all the way across the road from KX. Shucks.) Leeds got a brand new station, whilst Sheffield just got a new footbridge. Mind you Leeds now has a back entrance to the station which we’ve had for ages, not that our one goes anywhere useful.
We did have Supertrams first and Sheffield’s cyclists have been coming off on the tracks ever since. Sadly Leed’s ambitions for trams were kicked into touch as has the proposed replacement, a trolleybus system (Back to the Fifties or what?) Conditions for cyclists have always been better in Sheffield, due to our lack of major trunk routes – compare the A65 to Ilkley with a run over to Hathersage on the A625 and you’ll see what I mean. [However, a new programme of cycle routes for Leeds was announced in July 2009. and Leeds has now won some funding from the Cycle Cities Ambition fund, which has led to some improvements, particularly to Route 66 along the Leeds – Liverpool canal, and hopefully to the TPT route as well. The Leeds – Bradford “Superhighway” is open as of May 2016.
Despite our fear of Yorkshire’s “Death Star”, sometimes we have to go up there for one reason or another, or pass through on the way to somewhere nicer (and, let’s face it, where isn’t? – apart from Barnsley & Dewsbury that is). And then again, any sensible resident of the Leeds conurbation might want to escape from the place, in which case they will have to read these instructions backwards. (I took that precaution in the sure knowledge that there is no-one in Leeds intelligent enough to do this.)
So the question is, which way to go? If you look at the map the A61 will present itself to you. Running parallel to the M1, you might think it will be lightly used by cars. Unfortunately this is not the case, as it acts both as a feeder route for the motorway network, and as a link between the communities of South & West Yorkshire it passes through. Being of a greenish tinge (and not just from breathing the fumes of the various remnants of heavy industry en route) you might think about using the Trans-Pennine Trail, and why not? Here we try to examine the merits of these two routes which take you through the heart of the “rust belt” of Yorkshire, make some comparisons and try to draw some conclusions. A third possibility exists, taking in the network of minor roads to the west of the M1, and offering the opportunity to call in at Bretton Hall Sculpture Park, and we will report back on this option once we have thoroughly investigated it. To those who baulk at the thought of cycling between these two major cities, take heart – it really isn’t that far (About 30 miles) and can be done easily in a leisurely day’s cycling by either of these routes, or in 3-4 hours if you keep up a brisk pace.