|Distance:||19.2 miles (30.9 km)|
|Meets:||A58, A671, A664, A6193, A663, A672, A6052, M62, A643, A62|
|Route outline (key)|
As with the other Pennine "A" road crossings in the area – A58, A62, A672 – the A640 lost much of its importance with the opening of the M62 at the beginning of the 1970s. Most of the traffic which used to use these routes is long since gone and the only traffic left is that which deliberately wishes to take twice as long as is necessary to get to the other side of the hills or has no choice in the matter. Even so, this road can make the A62 seem positively packed, as there are literally no vehicles to speak of, (although then again, you could drive over the Pennines on the A640 and A62 all day and realistically spot less than 2 or 3 cars on each road). When I made the journey earlier this week, I met three other cars coming the other way and was followed by one other for most of the way. Enough waffle, let's go.
Section 1: Rochdale – Milnrow
We begin just outside the town centre of Rochdale by leaving the A58 and turning right onto Drake Street, a non-primary S2. This is easier said than done as the traffic signals only let traffic make the initial right turn every third cycle. After about 1/3 mile the road begins to turn to the left back towards the town centre, so we need to turn off this road to the right, passing on one side of a large traffic island, and then crossing the A671 before we fork off to the left onto Milnrow Road. We begin to leave Rochdale, but we remain in a heavily built up area.
In Newbold we meet the A664 at a set of lights then cross the Rochdale Canal to reach Milnrow and another set of lights. Pre-M62 the main road bore to the left at this point to pass through the village itself, but when the M62 was constructed, a short bypass of Milnrow was also built. Therefore at the lights we continue straight on, onto the S2 Elizabethan Way, and we are allowed to travel at speeds of up to 40MPH before we arrive at the roundabout that forms the access to the M62 at Junction 21. Technically, however, the A640 doesn't meet the motorway here, as all the slip roads join the other road at the roundabout, the A6193.
Section 2: Milnrow - Outlane
We lose our primary status at this point and continue straight on, underneath the M62 and pass an industrial park on the right. We return to our original alignment shortly afterwards as the old A640 arrives from our left, just past the pub/TravelInn.
We enter the village of New Hey, but we need to TOTSO at this point as the straight-on route marks the beginning of the A663. We need to turn left and begin to head gently uphill at first and then more steeply as we get further up the hill, with occasional sharp turns to liven things up. This part of the road can quite often have streams of water flowing down it too, days after the last rainfall in the area so watch out if you decide a journey on it would be interesting.
We enter our first NSL zone as we leave the village behind and climb up to the top of the hill. Upon reaching the top, it is immediately back down the other side, with no flat plateau at all. So down we go, but not as quick as you'd like as we enter a 40MPH restriction, and then back into a 30MPH zone just before we arrive at the five-way crossroads at Denshaw, a junction that's rather difficult to describe. We cross the A672 at a staggered crossroads before bearing left at a wannabe roundabout to continue on the A640 (right would take us onto the A6052).
We leave Denshaw and then begin a long gentle climb back uphill onto Moss Moor, re-entering NSL as we leave the houses behind. After a mile or so, we turn 90 degrees to the right to cross over the top of the dam that separates the New Years Bridge and Dowry Reservoirs, and then it's a sharp 90 degrees to the left at the other side before continuing our climb. The outflow from these two reservoirs is actually the source of the River Tame, which heads down the valleys towards Stockport.
As we reach the top of our climb, we need to negotiate a couple of sharp turns as we run along the top of Blacker Edge. Shortly afterwards we pass Buckstones House where we get to our highest point, and indeed the highest of the three Pennine crossings nearby as we are far above both the M62 at Windy Hill that we can see on our left and the A62 at Standedge which is also of a similar height although a slightly lower altitude off to the right.
We run along the top for a bit, and send the B6114 off to our left. This 'B' road will take you over the top of the high bridge at Scammonden on the M62. It is a lot higher than you may realise if you wish to take in the view! We start declining and have a very straight bit of Roman road for the next few miles as we gently roll down the moors. We pass by the Nont Sarahs public house on our left, the restaurant of which affords excellent views of Scammonden Water and the M62 running along the top of the dam itself.
The straight bit of road comes to an end as we reach Pole Moor, and we need to slow down to negotiate a bit of a twister section of road. This part of road is where Monica Coghlan (Jeffrey Archer's denials of having an encounter with her in the 1980s led to his imprisonment) died in April 2001 in an accident involving an armed robber.
Section 3: Outlane – Huddersfield
After the twists, it's a little bit more of straight road before we sweep to the left to pass over the M62. We then sweep to our right before straightening up and heading downhill into the village of Outlane. It's down to 30MPH or less as we enter the village. Just before we begin to briefly climb again and bear to the left, you may notice the old road peeling off to the right. The current alignment was built as part of the M62 construction works in order to provide Junction 23. This left the old section of road, now a cul de sac. The point where the two alignments diverge marks the beginning of a 40MPH zone and the start of our D2 as we then turn to the right and cross over the M62. We arrive at a roundabout and carry straight on into Mount (right would take us onto the westbound motorway). At this point we pick up primary route status, which we hold until the end, three miles down the hill. The road passes through a built up area with housing on both sides and shortly afterwards we enter our final 30MPH zone as we approach Salendine Nook. We continue declining as we get closer to Huddersfield town centre, going straight on at a roundabout where our D2 ends. It's S2 now as we pass through Marsh before our final roundabout. We go straight on at it, climbing a small hill before our final decline and our finish as we meet the A62 Huddersfield Ring Road at a set of lights.
Original Author(s): Chris W