New Sheffield cycle routes showcase best of lakeland landscape
This winter, Sheffielders are invited to explore a hidden landscape many have never visited before, says Tom Newman, manager of the Steel Valley Project charity.
Tom and his colleagues have tested out five new cycling routes to help people explore the Sheffield Lakeland area.
The new tier-three restrictions mean groups of up to six people can again ride out to the countryside together.
Although Kirklees and Derbyshire have joined South Yorkshire in tier three, the advice is people should still stick to their local area when out exercising – the Derbyshire border crossing restriction is no longer quite so strict however, as cyclists, walkers and runners can pass through other areas, but should avoid stopping there.
The ‘Sheffield Lakeland Cycle Routes’ largely stick to north-west Sheffield, covering roads, byways and bridleways around Stocksbridge, Wharncliffe, Loxley, Rivelin and Redmires.
The routes – five to 14 miles long – can be viewed or downloaded from steelvalleyproject.org/cycle-routes
Tom says: “There’s a huge amount of people coming into cycling for the first time at the moment, or returning to cycling, so by providing these routes we hope we’ll help them explore this area.
“It’s such a varied landscape from lowland river valleys to high moorland, from gritstone cliffs to farmland, including uplands like Stanage Edge and the the 1,000-acre woodlands at Wharncliffe.”
Jack Windle, from the South Yorkshire Love to Ride cycling scheme, says there has been a big increase in newcomers to cycling this year, with more than 1,000 new cyclists encouraged by friends and colleagues to join the scheme since 2017.
Making trips by bike frees up public transport seats for key workers who cannot cycle, he says, and so helps the NHS and everyone else.
And there is no need to lock your bike away as the winter approaches, he says.
Jack says: “All you need is a little preparation. Make sure you wear enough layers, for example two pairs of socks, or overshoes, to keep your feet warm and dry, and a thin pair of gloves inside your waterproof pair make a huge difference after hurtling downhill on a cold winter’s day.
“Your coat needs to be windproof and waterproof, but doesn’t need to cost a fortune, and you should always carry decent lights, front and back, as bad weather can often make the whole day dark in the depths of winter.”
Cyclists on South Yorkshire Love to Ride have cycled more than six million miles since the scheme started three years ago.
And the Sheffield Council and NHS-supported scheme is offering discounts on kit, cold weather riding advice and the chance to win a range of winter gear as part of this December’s free Winter Wheelers programme at lovetoride.net/southyorkshire
The Sheffield Lakeland Cycle Routes project is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Sheffield Lakeland Landscape Partnership, with Stocksbridge-based Trek Sheffield Fox Valley celebrating the launch of the routes by giving a free T-shirt to people riding all five routes between now and April, with a prize draw for a £150 Trek voucher for all route completers.
Andy Cook, from Trek Fox Valley, says: “2020 has been a remarkable year for many reasons and cycling is one of the areas that has really grown globally.
“Our workshop team have been busy servicing bikes that have been in hiding for many years, and people are re-discovering their love of the sport, commuting to work, going by bike to run errands, all playing an important part in saving our planet; we love to see car journeys being exchanged for bike trips.”
The fundraising Steel Valley Ride for the conservation charity had to be cancelled this year, so Tom hopes riders discovering the area may also make a donation to the Steel Valley Project’s work at steelvalleyproject.org/donate
He says: “We hope people who don’t normally cycle will get out into the Sheffield Lakeland countryside to follow these routes.
“Getting out on your bike just now is good for your physical and mental health, and if you do all the routes you’ll begin to get an insight into what the amazing Sheffield Lakeland landscape is really like.”