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Stately homes & sculptures on an 80km ride

Photo by John at Eleven.

Begining in the northeast of Sheffield at Chapeltown, this ride passes several grand houses, heading through Yorkshire's old coal mining country and medieval villages.

From Chapteltown it heads straight over the M1 motorway into neighboring Rotherham. A couple of early pulls take you into the village of Wentworth, where you’ll notice the characteristic green paint on the housing. Keep your eyes peeled for the entrance to the Wentworth Woodhouse estate, where deer roam in the 18th-century parkland surrounding one of the most impressive grand houses in the region. The house has the longest frontage of any private house in the country and was once home to the Rockingham and Fitzwilliam families.

Once through the village there is a gradual descent to the Dearne Valley and the once beating heart of British coal mining. The area around Wath saw some of the fiercest miner protests in the 1980s. The valley has been slowly regenerated, with RSPB Old Moor nature reserve being one of the highlights. The poet Ian McMillan grew up and derived inspiration for some of his work from the politics and landscape here.

Steadily climbing from the Dearne Valley, there are a number of striking medieval villages with old stone cottages. Barnburgh and Hooten Pagnell stand out, the latter being described in the Domesday Book as ‘Hotone’ where ‘Earl Edwin had one manor of ten carucetes for geld, and ten ploughs’. It’s a pleasant and relatively quiet pedal for the next 25km heading west through an arresting combination of mining heartland and ancient villages.

Eventually the route turns south and heads for home. At Bretton the renowned Yorkshire Sculpture Park (pictured above) is a worthwhile stop off, with the grounds of Bretton Hall acting as a stunning backdrop for the work of several local and internationally recognised artists.

The terrain becomes a little lumpier for the remainder of the ride, with an initial climb up Jebb Lane to High Hoyland. At the top the Cherry Tree pub, which overlooks the spectacular and far-reaching view over God’s own country, is a superb spot to rehydrate. The descent takes you past yet another fabulous parkland, this time of Cannon Hall. Once the home of the Spencer-Stanhope family, the hall now houses fine furniture and the regimental museum of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and the Light Dragoons.

The lanes are quiet but you’ll encounter a few more stiff but short ramps passing through the villages of Cawthorne and Silkstone. At Hood Green the route skirts close to Stainborough Park, the site of yet another Grade 1 listed country house and garden. Wentworth Castle, once the home of Thomas Wentworth, the first Earl of Strafford, is a great stop-off – the rhododendrons are magnificent in late spring and the folly castle at the top of the garden offers spectacular panoramic views of the area.

Only a few kilometres remain but there is still one more stately home of note at the village of Wortley. Wortley Hall was rebuilt by Sir Richard Wortley in the late 16th century and was subsequently passed on through the decades, eventually being the seat of The Earl of Wharncliffe in the early 20th century. The British Army used the house which, in addition to the purchase by trade unions in the 1950s, led to some disrepair, but it is now a popular wedding venue. Last chance for a stop here, before the short decent into Chapeltown and the end of the ride.

Written by James Allen

31.03.2016

Information

Start: Chapeltown, S25.
Distance: 80km (1300m climbing).
Route map: GPX export via Strava.
Where to eat & drink:
Cherry Tree Inn, High Hoyland.
Wentworth Castle cafe for a coffee and cake.
The Countess Tea Room or The Wortley Arms in Wortley.

from city centre

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