|From:||Heaton Chapel (SJ882925)|
|To:||Dinting Vale (SK017945)|
|Distance:||12.2 miles (19.6 km)|
|Meets:||A6, B5169, B6167, M60, A560, B6104, B5465, B6171, A627, B6101, B6102, B6104, A57|
|Route outline (key)|
The A626 is a U-shaped road running east of Stockport.
Section 1: Heaton Chapel – Marple
The road begins as a limited access junction from the southbound A6 in the Stockport inner suburb of Heaton Chapel and forms part of the unofficial Stockport Ring Road. Should any northbound A6 traffic wish to join the road at its top end then access to it is by the B5169 which crosses the A626 after 250 yards from its start point. However, since Northbound A6 traffic would have turned off a mile further down to join at the Tiviot Roundabout this is not a widely required turn and as such is not a problem.
The road continues through another set of traffic lights before reaching the Tiviot roundabout. Taking the second exit takes the road down Tiviot Way, which can get very busy at peak times due to its link to the M60 and has not been helped by the building of the Tesco Extra superstore and the extra set of lights that are present as a result. Half way down the hill the road crosses the River Tame, one of the two rivers that merge in Stockport to form the Mersey, and the long since closed Tiviot Dale railway line. The speed limit for this short section is 40mph.
At the bottom of the hill the large Portwood Roundabout is reached. This allows clockwise access only to the M60 at J27 (anticlockwise access requires travel up the A560 to the infamous junction 25) The B6104 (the old A560) can also be taken here along with the A560 through Stockport town centre.
Drivers have a choice at this point in the route to be taken to reach Glossop. They may take the longer A560, M60, M67 and A57 or the shorter but slower A560 and A57 to reach Glossop. Both these routes are, however, quicker than taking the A626, even with the bottleneck at on the A560 at Hattersley. Even if one was to take the A560, B6104 to rejoin the A626 in Marple Bridge this would still be quicker than the supposed direct road if a lot less scenic.
Continuing on over Portwood Roundabout the road makes the first of two crossings of the River Goyt, shortly before its confluence with the Tame. The road climbs up out of the valley with a short section of S2+1 road though due to its length most A626 traffic remains in the left hand lane.
At the top of the hill is a TOTSO, the A626 goes left via a filter lane to rejoin its original route (which followed the B6167 from the Tiviot roundabout and then ran through the town centre), whist the unofficial Stockport ring road continues on as the B5465, where it drops down to (re)join the A6 south of Stockport Town centre.
At this point the A626 runs though the inner suburb of Offerton and is often very slow going due to numerous traffic lights and the road being generally quite narrow. The situation is not helped by a new set of traffic lights having been installed at its junction with Lisburne Lane, though arguably the volume of traffic tuning onto it from Offerton Estate necessitated the change, whereas the B6171 which joins the road shortly before the lights is quieter and not controlled.
Shortly after Offerton the road dips down passing through Offerton Fold and immediately climbs back up to pass the entrance to Bosden Farm estate on the right. A great view across the Goyt valley would be had at this point if it were not for the thick lining of trees on the left hand side. The following stretch of road is often busy, owing to the two-part controlled junction with the A627. The two roads multiplex (with the A626 dominant) for a very short distance, after the A627 joins it from Hazel Grove from the right, through the narrow gap at the bottom of Dan Bank. The A627 then turns off to the left towards Hyde at the second set of traffic lights whilst the A626 climbs up the relatively steep Dan Bank. At the top the suburb of Marple is reached and the road, whist still being 30 mph, is quite fast at this point (except in rush hour) passing Rose Hill station and the start of the scenic Middlewood Way which allows walkers to follow the old railway route to Macclesfield. After about a mile the road comes to a three-way split at what is still often called the Jolly Sailor Junction even though the pub which bore that name is now retirement apartments. Again a TOTSO is required to remain on the A626 as straight ahead becomes the B6101 to Marple town centre and New Mills. The A626 on the other hand climbs slightly and narrows to skirt round the centre of Marple.
Section 2: Marple – Dinting Vale
After reaching and crossing the Peak Forest Canal in the middle of the Marple flight of locks, the road drops down the very steep Brabyns Brow passing the junction with the short B6102 towards Marple's centre, crossing over the railway line at Marple's main station and the entrance to Brabyns Park before again crossing the River Goyt and entering the suburb of Marple Bridge. Where the funeral parlour now is on the left there used to be a pub but this was demolished nearly a century ago when the road was widened to try and make the descent safer after numerous fatal accidents with cars ending up in the opposite Norfolk Arms pub.
This stretch of road is especially busy at school and rush hour times and has got worse since traffic lights were installed with the Mellor junction, after the rebuilding of the retaining wall after it collapsed in the early 1990s following heavy rain, though it does at least provide a much safer crossing for pedestrians. The road bends to the left as it runs through the commuter village before climbing to again meet the B6104 by the Windsor Castle Pub. This is a bad junction for several reasons but travelling from this direction the road bends sharply to the right and has been the scene of near misses and not-so-near misses as it appears too many people think the B6104 has right of way but of course it does not. Coming down to the junction from Glossop is just as bad as the bend is very steep and tight to the left and more than 1 HGV has tipped over onto the pavement opposite. Rumble strips were but down but were removed again after local residents living on the road deemed then too loud, though better signing has been introduced over recent years along with increased markings on the road. Due to the lack of any building space this junction can never be redesigned and traffic lights would cause an even bigger bottleneck than there is now, especially if coming from the B6104.
Continuing up the hill towards Glossop the road bends round passing the top end of residential Marple Bridge and becomes 40MPH as it passes the Lane Ends Pub. This section of road has in the last 19 years been NSL and as low as 30 MPH which was ludicrous given the lack of any pedestrians though it was a good earner for the Traffic Police. The view to the left across to Werneth Low and beyond is stunning and traffic coming in the opposite direction is treated as well to a view across Stockport and as far as North Wales in clear weather. There is lots of farmland in this area along with steep access to Etherow Country Park via Ernocroft Woods. At this point the road is open and does not suffer any hold ups unless you are stuck behind a lorry or farm traffic.
After several miles the road then officially leaves Marple Bridge and immediately crosses the Derbyshire boundary and shortly after becomes 30 mph through the village of Chisworth. It climbs up towards the larger village of Charlesworth, which is a bit of a bottle neck due to parked cars and the small crossroads in the village centre. After leaving the village the road then crosses the Glossop to Manchester railway line but despite being close to the Gamesley Estate there is no station here, the nearest being Dinting or Broadbottom, neither of which are particularly easy to reach from here. After passing the estate on the left the road drops down through a small wood to join the A57 at Dinting Vale several miles west of Glossop town centre. The Broadbottom viaduct on the railway line is just to the right.