|Via:||Stalybridge, Holmfirth, Barnsley|
|Distance:||51 miles (82.1 km)|
|Meets:||A6, A635(M), B6469, A665, A6010, B6390, A662, A6140, M60, A6017, A627, A670, B6170, B6194, B6431, B6176, A6018, B6177, B6175, A669, A6024, B6106, A616, A629, A636, B6115, B6428, A637, A61, A6133, A633, B6100, B6096, A6195, B6098, B6411, A1(M), A638|
|Route outline (key)|
The A635 is one of the less important Pennine crossings, running between the M62 and A628, and in fact, the section which crosses the Pennines itself is perhaps one of the most quietest Pennine Pass in the whole of the South Pennine Range. It's also one of the few roads, especially of this length, which became a huge victim of county changes in 1974; before this date, it ran through Lancashire, Cheshire and finally Yorkshire, nowadays it runs through Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire then South Yorkshire.
Section 1: Manchester – Shepley
The road now begins slightly further south than it used to. Instead of starting on Fairfield Street in Manchester City Centre, it begins immediately as the Mancunian Way ends, which at this point is the unsigned A635(M). The motorway flows directly into our route. There's a TOTSO right at a set of lights, and we pick up the old alignment, which now starts as the B6469.
We can see the new City of Manchester Stadium on the left, site of the 2002 Commonwealth Games and now home to Manchester City FC. The road switches between S2 and S4 as it passes through the rather run-down urban areas of Ardwick and Gorton. A short one-way system at a triangular-shaped junction with the A662 leads onto a wider stretch as we near the M60 junction. This area is set to see significant industrial growth, with whole swathes of land either side of the now D3 road cleared and ready for development.
After crossing the M60 at J23, the road becomes older D2 again. A large roundabout takes us around Ashton town centre onto the relief road, and after a couple more roundabouts we are at the other side of the town, on the original route again. Up until now the route has been primary, but it becomes non-primary at the TOTSO left at the A6018 junction in Stalybridge. The primary route continues down the A6018 towards Mottram and the A628 Pennine crossing. This is why the Pennine crossing for the A635, mentioned below, is so quiet, as most motorists decide to get to the other side of the Pennines via the A6018 and A628, hence it's primary status.
Back to the A635 and just after the TOTSO We go around a sharp left-hand bend and pass through the northern part of Stalybridge and then continue to Mossley, this section is a few miles of decent 40mph speed limit. We also travel underneath a single-track railway arch on the Manchester to Huddersfield railway line, where the traffic flow is controlled by lights. We get our first views of the Pennines too, looming large on the horizon. We then arrive at Mossley centre, where there becomes a 30mph speed limit. To all locals, this area of Mossley is known as Bottom Mossley, the other being Top Mossley a little further up the hill on the A670 (which does coincidently run virtually parallel with the A635 from Ashton-Under-Lyne to Greenfield). The reason for the addition of 'Top' and 'Bottom' Mossley is historic, as 'Top' Mossley historically lay entirely in Lancashire, with 'Bottom' Mossley lying in the North Eastern most part of Cheshire. Of course though, nowadays since 1974, both lie in Greater Manchester.
The surrounding area gets noticeably richer and better-looking as we approach Greenfield in Saddleworth (which also happens to have a historic county, as before 1974 it was in Yorkshire and from then on became Greater Manchester) and we also cross the Pennine Bridleway and also pass a very old-fashioned looking mill which, unlike most others in the Oldham area, is still active. We soon get to the roundabout with the A669, and if there has been any flake of snow in recent days, your best bet is to use this roundabout as a U-turn and proceed to junction 22 of the M62 instead, as you won't get much further on the A635. Immediately after leaving this roundabout, the Pennines announce themselves starkly with the start of a 4-mile long, twisty, narrow climb. We level out at the summit on Saddleworth Moor, forever to be grimly associated with the Moors Murders of the 1960s. The road up to that point navigates through a typical narrow, deep Pennine Valley and the road here remains narrow and pretty much untouched for decades with unprotected drop-offs into ditches either side, and parts are also extremely bumpy and undulating. This first section of the Pennine pass recently got given a 50 mph speed limit up until the very summit of the hill and the 'new' county boundary with West Yorkshire where it becomes a national speed limit.
A straighter section is the beginning of the descent down the Eastern side of the Pennines, and up here, around 450-500 feet above sea level, you will notice there may indeed be more walkers than vehicles because you will be on your own. This soon becomes a 2-mile long downhill gradient of 10%. It isn't as twisty or narrow as the ascent out of Greenfield though.
We enter Holmfirth (where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed) and descend a long, straight hill. Turning left at the bottom, we multiplex with the A6024 for a short distance until we TOTSO right at a tight (for large vehicles) set of traffic lights right in the town centre. We then climb a hill out of the centre, and resume our journey on a recently-resurfaced section as we approach New Mill.
The A616 junction here has a rather odd layout. The through route is A635 east – A616 south, with the other two routes joining at-grade adjacent to each other. We must therefore TOTSO left (but not too far left lest we end up on the A616 north!), then ascend another fairly long hill, this time with a 9% gradient, before meeting the A629 at an at-grade staggered junction about a mile south of Shepley.
Section 2: Shepley – Doncaster
After crossing the A629 it's NSL for the first couple of miles and also quite flat, before we begin to drop down towards Denby Dale and encounter a 40MPH limit. A fork in the road signifies the point where we must TOTSO as the A636 picks up the main line of the road towards Wakefield. We must bear right to continue our journey. We pass down the back of Denby Dale, home of the UK's largest pies (more on that on the A636 page), passing underneath the railway viaduct.
We leave Denby behind, regain our NSL signage and make our way towards Barnsley on a very twisty and narrow road. We pass by the village of Cawthorne shortly before going underneath the M1, without interchange, before slowing down for a brief bit of 30MPH road at Barugh Green, which becomes NSL and then down to 40 just before we reach a roundabout where the A637 from Lepton, comes to an end. At this point we regain our primary status.
We turn to the right towards Barnsley town centre and as we crest a hill at Wilthorpe, enter a 30 limit. We continue to run straight into the centre, before we turn left and plunge downhill just outside the college. At the bottom of the hill we meet the A61 at a large roundabout with a retail park in the middle, and piggy back onto it as we climb up Harbrough Hill, now on 40MPH D2. We cross the A628 at a GSJ on the bypass before arriving at a roundabout, where the A61 and A635 leave to the left. We turn left then, and for us left again and pick up our exclusive road number once more. We head downhill, back on 30MPH S2 out of the centre of Barnsley. Shortly before we arrive at another roundabout, this time with the A633, we gain a short stretch of D2 and a 40 limit. We head uphill once gain at the other side of the roundabout. We gain NSL signage, but the D2 comes to an end. (What the council give with one hand, they take away with another!)
There's a short bit of 40 and then 30 as we pass through Darfield and then we meet a roundabout with the A6195 Dearne Valley Parkway. At this point we go straight on but also take over the Dearne Valley Parkway name. Much of this area consisted of collieries not so long ago, and the parkway was constructed to improve access and to kick-start regeneration of the area. The parkway consists of 5 miles of D2 A6195 towards the M1 at Junction 36, which passes next to the site of the old Cortonwood mine, now a huge B&Q, Morrisons and other many other stores. It also consisted of another bit of new road, the Goldthorpe bypass which we traverse next. It's NSL S2 with a couple of roundabouts on it before we regain the original course of the road just before Hickleton. This next bit is a short length of 30 which should have been altered years ago as it consists of a couple of very sharp turns on the brow of a hill. After that it's a pretty straight bit of NSL, before we slow down slightly to 40 as we pass through the hamlet of Marr.
Back to NSL after that, pass through a wood and then it's a roundabout which is the A1(M)'s Junction 37. Out the other side, we enter a 40MPH zone and then run gently downhill through Scawsby, before we finish our journey at Saltergate Junction, a T-junction and set of traffic lights on the A638 (former A1) Great North Road.