Horbury Wakefield Leeds Bradford (cycling) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

A long ride mostly on canal side cycleways around West Yorkshire.

Conditions

Mostly easy going cycle tracks, with the odd bit of city centre traffic along the way.

Hazards and warnings

Navigation is difficult in places, with poor or vandalised signs, and confusing junctions. Look for notes on the map.

Detailed description

Navigation problem areas (see numbers on the map for more details):

1, At the cycleyway on the left in Stanley Ferry stay on the road for the TPT. I foolishly followed the cycleway rather than the road.
2, Near Methley the sign has been turned around so it’s not obvious to join the canalside path, rather than carry on east.
3, British Waterways have closed the canalside path, with no diversion signage. It’s actually easy to get back on the TPT by crossing the bridge and following the minor road to the locks, but it’snot obvious.
4, The TPT follows the gap between the river and canal until it ends at a lock. The signage here doesn’t make it obvious as the which bank to follow. I guessed the north bank which was wrong! A reminder sign on the other side of the bridge would be helpful to point out the correct way.
5, Shipley. There's no signage to the start of NCN 66, apart from a small one on the canal.
6. Central Bradford. The markings seem to vanish leaving you to find your own way across. The Sustrans map site shows a route carrying on up what seems the wrong way up a one way street, but I couldn't find any sign telling me to do this, so I made my own way and lost the cycleway.
7. The lower poart of the Spen Valley Cycleway has been closed for a while due to water pipes being laid along the route. The diversions are not as nice as the proper route, but the b road past Dewsbury Moor is slightly shorter.
 

Narrative

A rainy, and windy day, and a long ride ahead.

The cyclepath from Wakefield was easy going along the trans pennine trail. The trail is generally well surfaced, and pleasant riding, with a mixture of road and dedicated cycleway. However, I still managed to lose the right way by following some signs for a cycleway off the main cycle way in Stanley Ferry. I also found, on more than one occasion that many signs had been turned around, so don't just blindly follow the signs! Once I picked up the cycleway from Bottom Boat (strange name!) I was able to get stuck into getting some speed up. By Methley, the route ruturned to the the road, before following the Aire and Calder canal towards Leeds.

The canal was fine at first, but near Woodlesford, British Waterways had decided to close the canal path, and helpfully not provided a signed diversion. Fortunatly, I found I could rejoin the canal by the locks further upstream.

After that the canal side path took me under the M1 and gradually into the semi industrial southern part of Leeds. Just before the Royal Armouries, the path forks, with a branch on both the southern and northern banks. The signage was not clear, and I took the northern path. Big mistake. The Trans Pennine Trail runs along the souther bank. The northern path spat me out in the busy road system of central Leeds. I did need to get food, but I wasn't happy with navigating the busy roads of central Leeds. Some more signed cycle paths please! I have donated to Sustrans before and I applude their work, however, I do sometimes find the signage to be poor especially in urban sections. Sometimes this is due to vanadalism, but in this particular case, I think this was just poor way marking.

Once past the station, I rejoined the Leeds and Liverpool canal, as the canal had become, and made good progress along the canal which gradually climbed up along the river valley and out into open countryside. The Leeds and Liverpool is part of National Cycle Route 66, and is ideal cycling. No traffic, and pleasant green countryside, despite west Yorkshire being so urban. At Shipley, it was time to leave the canal (I'd like to have carried on to Salts Mill) and head up into Shipley on NCN 69. The first 1 or so was horribe, lots of traffic through a not particularly area. From then on the cycleway was at least off the main road, but still not as nice as the canal. 

Annoyingly the cycle route seem to end by the station, and seems to leave up in central Bradford's complex one way system with no idea of how to find where the cycle route resumed. I basically blundered around, on various backstreets, until near Bolling Park I managed to find the cycleway again. Once under the motorway, I joined the top of the Spen Valley Cycleway, which follows an old railway line, and offers easy going cycling. Annoyingly, by Dewsbury Moor the cycleway is closed, and has been for a long time (the whole ride was plagued by closed sections), which sent me onto the busy B 6117. Once in Dewsbury, I picked up the branch of the canal that starts near the Asda (if following the Spen Valley Cycleway you'd end up on the Calder and Hebble canal), and soon got to the Calder and Hebble canal, where it was't far to return to the start. 

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