Rides Near You – The Don Valley Trail

5.2km long

Fitness Rating ☺️ very easy

Hills ⛰️ very gentle

Hazards ⚠️ midges for a couple of sections, woodland sections can get slippery in Autumn, avoid if there has been very heavy rain as some of the sections are flood plains

Deep in the middle of the industrial heartland of South Yorkshire is a surprising beautiful trail between Rotherham and Meadowhall.

Starting at the 12th Century Grade I listed Rotherham Minster, a stunning perpendicular Gothic style church – one of the tallest in Yorkshire and often compared to York Minster in its beauty, we head south to join High Street (not forgetting a cup of “starter coffee” at Fitzwilliam Hughes in the imperial buildings.

Note that the photos are from multiple trips and are taken over a period of around six months.

From the Minster Gardens, head up towards High Street up Corporation Street (it’s a bus and cycle only lane at this point) onto the junction of Main Street and turn right at the lights towards Masborough. Observe one of Rotherham’s less delightful buildings in the 1960’s post office HQ.

Down Main Street, over the river and the railway and past the police station and the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council HQ on the left, you’ll see New York Way and the Rotherham United New York Stadium.

That’s our next goal, as due to river banking works a short stretch of TPT 6 is closed, but not to worry as you can pick it up at the back of the stadium.

Turn left down New York Way (the New York area of Rotherham is named after the city of New York as it is where many of the castings for the street furniture in the city were made, including the iconic fire hydrants).

As you reach the front of the stadium and bask in the glory of our current 3rd in league one position (which will definitely change!) Here comes the tricky part to pick up TPT6.

Turn to the left and head into the far corner of the carpark. I might add this is only a temporary route change whilst Don Street is closed due to the riverbank works.

As you make the turn to join the river, you’ll see Guest and Chrimes abandoned factory behind you. This building is also listed (and is in a poor state) however plans have been formulated to turn it into housing whilst keeping the existing frontages. This is the actual factory where the ironworks were made.

Now turn right at the river towards Meadowhall and you’re on your way along TPT6 to Sheffield.

The first thing you’ll be greeted by is the strange feeling of enclosure, surrounded by rivers and railways you feel in the middle of everything and yet unable to actually get to it – the first stretch is very fenced in, but don’t worry you’ll soon realise why I shared this route.

One of your first sights upon leaving the built up area is Holmes, home of RASCA. Narrowboats moor up here at one of the wider sections of the canal, and if you’re lucky you’ll see huge numbers of both squirrels and rabbits flee for cover as you ride down the path.

Continue towards Meadowhall under the Midland Mainline (if you’re lucky you might see a steaming as we get regular steam trains up this line heading towards Leeds and York) and around the bend in the river up to Jordans Lock, the Grade II listed lock ladder.

It’s after Jordans Lock that the path joins the side of the River Don and from this point onwards you’ll often see salmon flicking in the water. From being ecologically dead just 40 years ago the Don now carries Salmon, Trout and even Otters, and from this point onwards you’ve a chance of seeing all three if you’re patient.

Carrying on we pass under the heavy railway and tram-train line as we now sight the distant Tinsley Viaduct carrying both the M1 and A631 over the Don Valley. The reinforcement on the railway bridge makes a perfect haven for bats, and on late summer and early autumn evenings half an hour under this bridge at sunset can tick you off Pipistrelle, Daubenton, Natterers and Noctule bats as they feed.

We’re now on the final stretch, and whilst you’re cycling towards the Tinsley Viaduct keep an eye out for fig trees. There are a few dotted around, and further up the river there’s a whole fig forest of around 50 protected trees, all created because the steelworkers loved figs in their lunchboxes. Look out for the waxy leaves, far different from anything else around.

Continuing on we reach the bow bridge, one of the more recent bridges installed to allow the crossing of the river and the regeneration of the TPT as before it was built the trail dead ended.

As we reach Tinsley we pass under “Bridge 19” – the Tinsley Viaduct. Originally built as a cantilever bridge in 1968 it has twice been reinforced, once because the structure was failing, and then again to upgrade the top deck M1 to three lanes (to allow for the weight of a bridge of queueing lorries should such an event happen). The bridge deck rolls on the supports as the huge length of it expands by up to 800mm in summer! If you decide to cycle across the lower deck, don’t be surprised at how much there bridge swings whilst you’re on it.

It’s at this point you’ll pick up the signs for Meadowhall. Should you wish to visit the centre the cycle facilities are fantastic! There are two locations, one near “The Oasis” and management suite, and one near the entrance to Next. Both are undercover, both have emergency cycle repair stations, and both provide free power sockets for giving ebikes a topup. The former of these is just off Route 6 as you pass the children’s play area and Oasis entrance.

Should you decide to carry on, follow TPT6 and you’ll eventually end up in Sheffield, although it becomes more industrial from this point onwards.

You can also catch a tram at Meadowhall South tram stop which will return you to Rotherham (Black TT route) or you can head into Sheffield (Purple route to Halfway or Yellow Route to the city centre and Middlewood) and better still because you’ve got a folding bicycle you can take it on the trams provided it’s folded up! Now you know why you love your foldies!

MyThis route is quite an easy one, there are very few steep gradients although the latter half of the route is a very gentle uphill rising approximately 33 metres. It should take about half an hour and both starts and ends near good frequent public transport links (trains, trams and buses).

2 thoughts on “Rides Near You – The Don Valley Trail

  1. Wow ,
    I have done this route as part of a ride starting at stairfoot Barnsley , wish I had this article to hand before I did it , so much fascinating information on sights scenery ect and I had no idea that folders were allowed on the tram or the ebike charging points at Meadowhall,
    Thank you for a superb article ,
    I will definitely do this route again and look out for the wildlife and scenery .
    Best regards
    Mick
    PS how are you getting on with the travoy trailer

    Liked by 1 person

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