Bradford – Dewsbury Triangle
This ride of 11 people had a mix of old and new faces (both in terms of age and experience cycling with the LCC rides). Navigator was Steven, Steve Jones helpfully took some photos as usual.
Firstly we set off along the canal towpath. The city centre to Kirkstall part is smooth and pleasant as we knew, it was the new surface between Kirkstall and Rodley that we wanted to investigate.
Horrible! The new towpath surface was loose stones like a suburban crunchy driveway. This has obviously been done to make cycling along the towpath difficult, frustrating and slow. Even if the stones disperse and flatten a little it seems the surface will never be smooth. Also there are regular little brick ridges, clearly put there to be an obstacle to cyclists. To have deliberately installed a surface that is uncomfortable and slow for cyclists is disgraceful. It would appear whoever made the decisions are very reactionary and wanted a lot of money to be spent on their canal towpath to make it look pretty but deliberately make things difficult for cyclists because, fundamentally, they don’t want them there.
After two miles of the surface-much-worse-than-it-was-before of the twopath we decided to leave it early at Horsforth and go up the steep hill to Bramley. It seems the Leeds-Bradford ‘Cycling Superhighway’ will be a good thing as a dedicated cycleway, however construction had not started on the part of the Stanningley Road we saw.
We carefully used the railway crossing at Thornbury and went via Tyersal to Bowling Park. The volunteers ‘The Friends of Bowling Park’ who run the café there opened it up early for us and were very welcoming as always, having make several home-baked cakes, ready for us on their lace tablecloth.
How it should be. After bowling park we saw the way cycling infrastructure should be. After well signed cycle paths through suburban Bradford streets and by the side of a supermarket, we joined the Spen Valley Greenway. This is an old railway line converted to a cycle and walkway with a very smooth surface. There are many entries on and off to parks, suburban streets etc all the way along. It has, this can’t be emphasised enough, a smooth surface, the way a cycleway should be.
Underrated Spot For lunch we stopped at the Old Stables Café at Savile Town Marina, which again had stayed open a little longer for us. This was excellent value with generous portions, the bread slices for the sandwiches must have been an inch thick. The canal boats with ducks on the water were a very nice setting for a break.
For the final third of the ride there was no way to avoid hills to get back to Leeds. After using the long Crackenedge Lane which gives a good view over Dewsbury and Batley the hill up to Soothill gave us good exercise. The cycle path at the side of Middleton Ring Road gives a smooth, quick ride into the city however careful – it rejoins the road quite suddenly.
Conclusion – The café in Bowling Park run by the volunteers is a very refreshing visit to support a good cause, and the Spen Valley Greenway is a very pleasant cycle. The Old Stables Café at Savile Town Marina can also definitely be recommended. There is a lot of interesting things to see in this area and interesting routes to travel around here too. Unfortunately due to its surface at the time of typing the canal towpath beyond Kirkstall is something to definitely recommend avoiding.