12th June 2022
Stage 16 of the Sustrans Slow Tour of Yorkshire is from Sheffield to Rotherham.
Of the urban routes in the Slow Tour, this is probably my favourite. The backdrop to the ride is a great mix of the industrial and the natural, and the people I encountered along the way were without exception warm and friendly.
There is one significant caveat, though - see the warning below.
WARNING: at the time of writing (June 2022), the path by the Don on the last part of the route into Rotherham is closed. There's an ambiguous sign that suggests the closure may last until 31st March 2023, and zero effort has been made to create or signpost an alternative route.
Distance: 7.5 miles
each way, so 15 miles there and back
Time: 1h each way, so 2h in total
The map above gives an overview of the Sheffield to Rotherham route.
This is the ride on Plotaroute; you can download a navigation file from there.
This is the Sustrans leaflet for the Sheffield to Rotherham ride.
The ride starts from Blonk Street bridge. If the opportunity arises, would you mind gently telling the people of Sheffield that this is an odd name for a street and a bridge?
Head along Five Weirs Walk, with the river Don to your right. Go under the A61, then under the railway on Cobweb Bridge.
There are two short on-road stretches before Burton Weir (main photo at the top of the page).
In Attercliffe, a section of Five Weirs Walk is closed on a long-term basis after floods in 2019. Instead, you have to ride through the industrial estate that's home to Wayne's Auto Repairs.
When compared to the Duomo di Firenze or Disneyland Paris, the flow of tourists to this part of Sheffield is lower.
Return to Five Weirs Walk after the industrial estate, with the river Don on your left. I saw house martins here, and a sparrowhawk that tried and failed to catch one.
After crossing the river on Newhall Road, continue on Five Weirs Walk.
At Carbrook, you leave the river and negotiate a major road junction - but there is always a cycle path. In general the cycle infrastructure on this route is above average quality for the UK. On Janson Street, Sheffield shows it knows how to segregate pedestrians and cyclists.
After negotiating the road junction, you can head back to the river. Again, the path by the river is done properly, with separate paths for walking and cycling.
A little egret was fishing here.
This is a video of the little egret catching a fish. (A house martin puts in a brief flypast appearance).
There's more than one Sheffield Forgemasters building along the route.
Approaching Meadowhall shopping centre, there's a small wildflower meadow.
After going under Meadowhall Way, the path runs between the river and the shopping centre. Then it crosses the tramway.
Next you go over the railway and under the M1, then ride on a path between the river (Don) and the canal (Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation).
On this stretch, I felt that I was in the countryside. That happy feeling lasted until I got to Blackburn Meadows Nature Reserve. There, I came across a big ugly fence and unhelpful information boards with red crosses painted on.
At the time of writing you can't continue on the canal path. It seems there are flood alleviation works, and the path will be closed until 31st March 2023.
A tiny cardboard deviation sign sends you through Blackburn Meadows instead.
After the initial deviation sign, I didn't see any others - it seems they couldn't be bothered, and just abandoned people.
I did continue to Rotherham via Blackburn Meadows > Centurion Street > Bessemer Way > A6178 Sheffield Road > Westgate > Corporation Street > Bridge Street.
I got to the turnaround point, Rotherham Central Station.
Of course going via busy roads is completely different to cycling by the canal, even if there was the odd bit of cycle and bus lane.
It's really bad that no one bothered about a proper diversion route.
It's the same old story - it's only cycling, so it doesn't matter.
Return by the same route.
1) The cycle infrastructure in Sheffield was quite good, but it generally did not give priority over minor side roads and driveways. This should be done, in accordance with the LTN 1/20 guidance.
2) The City of Sheffield should purchase a broom with stiff bristles, and sweep all the broken glass off the cycle paths.
3) The arrangements for getting people into Rotherham while the canal path is closed are non-existent. It's an abysmal level of service from those involved (presumably the council, the Environment Agency, and their contractors).
It would never be thought acceptable to close a road to motor vehicles and provide no information, no acceptable alternative route, and no signage - and it isn't acceptable to do this on a cycle route.
Have you done this bike ride? What do you think of it?
OS Explorer Sheffield and Barnsley - available on Amazon.
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