|To:||Fenay Bridge, Huddersfield (SE175165)|
|Distance:||22.7 miles (36.5 km)|
|Meets:||M1, A656, B1217, B6137, A63, A639, A654, M62, B6135, A61, A650, A638, B6457, B6128, B6117, A637, B6118, B6433, A629|
|Old route now:||B1217, B6128|
|Route outline (key)|
The A642 originally started on the A1 at Hook Moor. However, when the M1 was extended from Leeds to join the A1 at Hook Moor in the late 1990s, it was decided that the A642 would not have an interchange with the new A1(M) section at Hook Moor, but instead would have a junction with the new section of M1, about a mile into the route of the A642. Therefore the first section of the road was renumbered by extending the B1217 on the A642's former route to the roundabout at Junction 47 of the M1.
Section 1: Garforth – Wakefield
The route begins by striking southwards from the large and lightly trafficked roundabout above the M1 at Parlington Woods, initially sharing the roundabout's 50 mph limit. After a short distance we slow down to 30 and a newly built roundabout entering Garforth. The road passes through the town at a sedate pace, negotiating a double bend at the bridge over the Leeds to York railway line, before crossing Garforth's Main Street at some traffic lights and picking up speed down the hill.
We meet the A63 at a roundabout, the other side of which we enter NSL road that we keep for mile or so, initially climbing before dropping downwards again. We need to slow down to less than 30 again as we pass through the village of Swillington, before speeding up again and then back down to 30 as we get to Woodlesford.
The A642 is still routed through the village of Oulton, but it is very narrow (it is now one-way southbound with a weight limit) so most traffic here will follow the main road as it bends to the right to meet the A639 and A654 at a roundabout. We need to turn left here, onto 40 mph D2 and multiplex with the A639 for about 400yds, meeting the mainline of the A642 just before reaching another roundabout which sees us send the A639 on its way towards Castleford. We carry straight on, on S2, climbing through a wooded area until we reach the M62's Junction 30.
The whole of the route from Garforth to this point was once a primary route, being an important connection between the A1 and the motorways south of Leeds, and in its time would spend much of the day filled by a steady stream of heavy goods vehicles. That changed in 1999 when the parallel M1 opened between Belle Isle and Aberford, at which point the A642 lost its primary status here. Road signs erected before that time - and a few confused examples erected later - still have the green colouring associated with its former status, and looking at the signs along the way a stranger would be hard-pressed to say with any certainty whether it was primary or not.
We pass over the motorway and leave it on the other side on a short stretch of NSL D2, gently turning to the right. We slow down once again to 40 mph as we pass through the village of Stanley, now back onto S2. We are still in countryside at this point, but that soon changes as we begin to enter the outskirts of Wakefield. We slow down to 30 mph and then begin to climb a hill.
Soon, we pass by one of the areas most famous hospitals, Pinderfields General, on the right hand side of the road. This hospital contains the main regional burns unit and many unfortunate victims of road accidents around the area will have been brought here over the years, many for their last moments. The old hospital buildings have recently been redeveloped into apartments. The road then bears right onto Jacobs Well Lane, before ending for now at a roundabout with the A61 Marsh Way. The exact route of the A642 through Wakefield is difficult to follow although the number does turn up in unlikely places in the city centre. The best bet for through traffic is to follow the A61 and then A638 along Westgate before the A642 regains its number at a gyratory.
Section 2: Wakefield – Fenay Bridge
We head out of Wakefield, once again a primary route, after sending the A638 away to our right towards Dewsbury. We make our way gently uphill for a few miles passing shops, petrol stations and housing on both sides of the road, keeping to the 30 mph limit. We pass underneath the M1 (no junction this time) and then bend to the left at this point in order to bypass the village of Horbury on a short stretch of 40 mph S2; the old road is now the B6128.
We start to drop downhill now towards Horbury Bridge, picking up the original main road again and with it the 30 mph restrictions. We pass over railway lines, the River Calder and the canal at the bottom of the hill and then cross the B6117 at a stagger.
We then leave behind the built-up area and begin to climb uphill, now on a NSL S2. No sooner have we managed to put our foot down we need to brake for the 30 mph as we pass through the small village of Middlestown and a signalled crossroads with a local route. After the lights we lose the 30 signs and the road becomes a good wide NSL S2 for a good couple of miles. We pass on our left the National Coal-Mining Museum where if you feel so inclined can take journeys underground into the workings of what was formerly the Caphouse Colliery.
We get to a roundabout where the A637 begins towards Barnsley in one direction, and the B6118 towards Cooper Bridge in the other. We carry straight on for a bit before slowing down to 40 mph for Lepton, a short bit of 50 mph and then back to 40 mph once more as we begin to drop down towards Huddersfield. We go straight on at a new roundabout recently built on the hillside, then continue to decline before slowing down to 30 mph about 200 yds before the A642 ends, at a T-junction on the A629. Huddersfield is to the right.