Leaving Sheffield City Centre you will soon find yourself on Penistone Rd heading north. You can start by taking the Kelham Island Cycle Route from Snig Hill, and take to the North Don Trail, temporarily signposted as part of NCN Route 6, which currently reaches Hillsborough – there is then a gap of a few hundred yards until you reach Beeley Woods Rd at the moment but it’s a start.)
Rumour has it that when the planners presented the then Director of Highways with a plan for the dualling of this road, complete with cycle lanes, toucan crossings and everything to make this flat route safe for cycling, he tore it up and said “we’re not having that!” Roads are for motors!” So now we have a fast busy dual carriageway (the speed limit is 30 but few motorists stick to it) with an inferior retro-fitted cycle track alongside it, or the dangers of the tram tracks on Langsett Rd to contend with. The traders of Hillsborough prefer to blame the tram, which actually brings shoppers to their doorstep, rather than the opening of a giant Morrison superstore and the aforementioned dualling of Penistone Rd which whisks the motorists of Hillsborough off to the City Centre and Meadowhall) for loss of business.
Crossing the busy Owlerton roundabout which at least now has toucan crossings, you start to climb, and the traffic doesn’t get any lighter – you are recommended to use the service roads running parallel to the dual carriageway for safety. You’ll notice the Trans-Pennine trail crossing the main road at Grenoside, and then the road flattens out as you pass through Greno woods – there are a couple of accident black spots in this section., and you are not far from the infamous Stocksbridge bypass – isn’t it funny how drivers always believe that something else, like the road itself is responsible for accidents? Breaking the speed limit and overtaking dangerously doesn’t seem to feature in their list of accident causes, somehow. If you’ve survived past this section, there’s a nice fast downhill on the dual carriageway, a couple of motorway-style roundabouts to negotiate, and you’re heading down to Worsborough , where the Trans-Pennine trail crosses again – faced with the option of a steep busy uphill, you might decide to take the trail for this section, and this isn’t such a bad idea, especially as some of it is properly paved. Otherwise, it’s up the hill, and down the other side into Barnsley.
As you arrive in Barnsley no doubt you will be looking for the safe cycle route to take you through the town centre and out the other side, Forget it. This is Barnsley and people are hard. The A61 continues on a raised high-speed throughway – the pride of Barnsley’s transport system – and if you want to get through this, you’d better get on it, grit your teeth and deal. Soon you will sweep down to a busy roundabout in the Dearne valley – the TPT crosses here – and you will start to climb back out. As you reach the outskirts you may notice some token efforts to provide facilities for buses and cyclists, but your quickest option will probably be to stay on the road. You pass through some open countryside which is almost pleasant, depending on how busy the road is, and soon you will come down to Newmillerdam Country Park which is a nice place to stop and eat your corned beef sandwiches (you deserve it!).
OK. You are now ready to take on Wakefield. The road soon turns into a busy multi-lane and you should be prepared to deal with fast traffic. Get in the wrong lane and before you know you’re heading for Dewsbury (as mentioned in the Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour). If you make it to town, I would suggest going through the town centre rather than attempting to go round on the ring road – I was nearly knocked off here myself.
The section between Wakefield and Leeds is dull dull dull – grim houses and a busy road, Eventually you will roll down to a large roundabout which announces that you are in thrall to Leeds and it’s appalling road system – note the total lack of facilities for cycles at this point. You may prefer to switch to the TPT at the Watermill museum in Stourton for a slightly less stressful journey into the centre – otherwise, you’re on your own.