Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 18, 2014

Reflections on the Transpennine Trail – a personal view. part 1

On our latest cycle tour , part of it took in the Transpennine trail from Stockport to York and it was like the curates egg, good in parts, terrible in others. We have cycled it twice previously from east to west, but this time it was to be east to east.
We cycled part way to Stockport on the Cheshire cycleway, but due to loosing the way we opted for taking a train from Knutsford .  Outside Stockport station, there is no indication which way to go to join the trail. This seems to be a common challenge to cyclists using a train to get to the start of a tour. It would be a great help if there was signage to cycleways outside all station exits.
Even asking local residents didn’t help much as they are oblivious to these trails unless they actually use them. Fortunately, we found one chap who had seen the signs down in the town near the Tes*o supermarket and so after negotiating  a large busy roundabout , we succeeded in accessing the TPT and it was nice at first with a reasonable surface. However, it was short lived with restrictors to squeeze through and very poor surfaces, and even horse steps on one descent through Reddish vale. After Denton, there was further surface deterioration and it became obvious that we would not make our proposed campsite. So asking about ,we heard there was a Premiere Inn  at  Hattersley, so that was where we headed for. Part of the track had been fenced off so it was a long climb up the road, fortunately, quiet in the early evening.
The receptionist was just lovely, getting us a ground floor room and letting us take the loaded cycles in. The food there wasn’t bad either.

Refreshed after after a good night’s sleep, we cycled in rush hour traffic down into Hattersley town, but were soon on quiet roads into Broadbottom and Gamesley on steep ups and downs. At Woolley bridge , there was really thick mud to have to plough through even though someone had put a couple of wooden boards down.

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Nothing for it but to push along on foot , as it wasn’t rideable.
After Hatfield, the way became better, following the well surfaced Longdendale trail. The views of the reservoirs built to supply the mills that were in the area, were really good.

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We carried on uphill and to Wood head tunnels and its here the really hard work begins. There’s a very poorly surfaced, steep path , up to the A628 which has become very much busier over the years. Waiting for a gap in the traffic, we ran across the road, to even worse uphill tracks worthy of any mountain.

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It took both of us , to take each loaded bike up , individually as there were stone ledges across the gravel strewn path. I must admit , we burst out laughing but if I had been on my own , it would have been tears of frustration.
Windle edge is the highest point on the TPT and is reached after crossing the A628 after lifting the loaded bikes over another difficult restrictor. Why in such a remote place.

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So it was with some relief , we freewheeled down to Dunford Bridge, a small village that has lost its facilities. However, the resurfaced path down to Penistone is a joy to ride. Penistone is well serviced with shops and Julies cafe served us mega portions of chocolate cake and hot chocolate . Very well worth supporting.

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OK

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We carried on the well surfaced track into Oxspring, where we were then on a minor road to Silkstone Common , and into the muddy Dove Valley trail down to Do worth Bottom where we headed towards Wentworth Castle to go to Rockley Abbey farm campsite.
Next morning, rather than ride back up the hills, we used roads to get through to Hoyland and Elsecar, avoiding some difficult steps marked on the map. At the heritage centre, go through the factory carpark, everyone does and its obvious that the official track isn’t used. The Elsecar Greenaway isn’t too badly surfaced but as it was raining , it was a bit mucky.
At Broomhill, there is a choice as the various routes connect up, but it was clearly signed.

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Responses

  1. I know what you mean Brenda, it seems churlish to complain about the excellent work that Sustrans has done over the years – however there are some ‘cycle paths’ that are just not worthy of the name and are more trouble than they are worth. In Milton Keynes we have the ‘Redways’ (look at the green lines on a Google map) – a wonderful idea; shared paths that help to keep cyclists and pedestrians away from fast roads that will get you to just about any part of the town and surrounding areas. However, the more I use them the more I am convinced that they were actually built for the drivers in order to keep us out of their way so they can go faster. My commute to work is 8.5 miles and crosses side roads over a dozen times – each time the Redway user is supposed to be the one that gives way! Views of oncoming traffic are minimal and often obstructed by trees and bushes and sometimes they are just downright dangerous! I’m not even going to bother going on about the state of the surfaces!
    Sustrans have obviously ‘adopted’ large sections of these paths as part of the major routes (NCN51 and NCN6 I think?) and I can understand why they would, but there are places like Bedford where you get shunted an extra mile through a housing estate, have to cross those stupid restrictor barriers and then find that the main road would have been much quicker, more direct and a lot less hassle!
    Anyway, rant over 🙂
    We still enjoy our riding right?

    • Yes, I still love riding but I’ve tried to warn others of difficulties they may encounter. DH and I are looking for so I me where to go for a long weekend August Bank holiday and I think we may use the train to get to an area and base camp.

  2. Thank you for bringing these matters to our attention. We have had a previous email from yourself via Sustrans but this only indicated the lack of signage from Stockport station to the Trans Pennine Trail. Now that we are aware of the other issues we can notify our project partners of the issues you encountered. It should also be pointed out that unfortunately many of our partners are now unable to attend to major re-surfacing works due to the financial restrictions now placed upon them. However, we will continue to lobby for these issues to be resolved as efficiently as possible.
    Crossing the A628 is a major issue for the TPT partnership, with 3 crossings in total. Historically the Highways Agency are aware of our concerns but have been adamant that the usage figures to not equate to what is seen to be an issue. We are hopeful that this will change in the future and continue to work with them whenever the possibility arises.
    Step-over style at Windle Edge – This area is problematic for illegal users (4×4) which has necessitated this access control to allow stock control of animals and access for Trail users whilst deterring illegal users.
    Kind Regards
    Hannah Beaumont
    National TPT Office

    • Thanks Hannah. I know there are financial difficulties but with the bad weather , that part of the trail has deteriorated a lot in the past few years. Those who cross it supported by whatever means won’t find it as difficult as a couple of mid 60’s with full load of camping gear. The part from Dunford bridge down to Penistone is lovely now. BTW I have ridden the entire TPT twice previously.


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