About a hour before we started, the rain came in. Light and first, and then just pouring down from leaden skies (the joys of an english summer...). So we decided it would be sensible to find a ride which was offroad, but avoided as far as possible anything that would be muddy or overgrown. I had seen the bridleway along side the new Normanton to Castleford road before, and thought it might be worth further exploration.
After Heath we followed Hell Lane to Sharleston, and then headed up to Warmfield. The we nipped across the Common on what was signposted as a footpath on one side, and bridleway on the other. Then, we crossed the A655 and picked up the bridleway that follows the A655. The first section was lovely riding; a stony track, sufficiently far from the road to feel like proper riding, and fast flowing rolling gradients. In fact it's probably one of my favourite sections of singletrack in the area. The section from the roundabout by the B6133 was closer to the road, and not so nice, but still offered fast riding. From the b6134 roundabout the bridleway carried on, but was not so nice being closer to the road, and bare of trees. The gravel surface wasn't so nice to ride, although you need to beware of hitting loose gravel at speed. Although it more of less followed the road, there were a few hills where the bridleway climbed the embankments.
After crossing the M62, the bridleway carried on towards Xscape and the new developments, before crossing the road, and dumping us on a industrial estate. We picked our way across Castleford on various minor roads to reach the new foot bridge over the Aire. After the bridge we headed north to join the A 656 briefly until we picked up the towpath (not sure this is a right of way for bikes - but plenty use it as such) which took us past the Boat Inn in Allterton Bywater. After a quick pint of Leeds Bitter it was back on the road, and into what had become heavy rain. The secion along the road was tedious and wet. We picked up the network of cycletracks which skirted around the old open cast coal mines to the south of Great Preston. Where once coal was mined, there was now a network of cycletracks and bridleways around lakes and nature reserves.
We crossed the river, and head to Mickletown, and then followed the trans pennine trail back to Wakefield. The long flat section along the old railway was fast, easy and rather tedious in the rain. When we reach Stanley we decided to stay on the main road rather than follow the TPT to make up time, as by now it was starting to get dark. Soon we regained the TPT and followed that back to Stanley Ferry, then back up to Heath.
All in all, not the most hilly or technical of rides. But ideal for novices and those looking for some offroad riding when it's been raining a lot.