|From:||Salterhebble, Halifax (SE095233)|
|Distance:||23 miles (37 km)|
|Meets:||A629, A58, A6139, A6033, A671, A682, A679, A671|
|Route outline (key)|
The A646 travels through Pennine valleys from Halifax in Yorkshire to Burnley in Lancashire, crossing the county border above Todmorden. It is a very scenic route, passing through and past a number of tourist destinations, which also make it a fairly slow route. Speed limits rarely exceed 40, and traffic is also held up by both local and tour buses stopping on the road, as dedicated bus lay-bys are not always provided. The road passes through traditional Pennine villages, and on a quiet day can be a very pleasant drive.
Section 1: Salterhebble – Todmorden
Starting at the junction of the A629 just south of the centre of Halifax, the road heads west past the hospital and then climbs up a long hill with parks to the righ to join the A58 at a major junction. This marks the original eastern end of the road; the hill was originally the A6027. The road continues to climb, along a very short D2 section, the westbound carriageway dropping to 1 lane before the end of the central reservation. The route remains a good, wide S2, however, as it continues heading west high above Sowerby Bridge and out of the built up area. It then drops down a hill to the Rochdale Canal near Luddendenfoot, which is the road's partner until Todmorden, along with a railway, all hemmed in by the steep hills.
The A646 follows the River Calder valley, partly wooded, partly industrialised, through strange sounding villages of Luddenden and Mytholmroyd, where the B6138 turns south into the hills. The next settlement is the recently revived Hebden Bridge, which has become a bustling tourist attraction with plenty of small classier shops. The A6033 turns north to cross the hills, whilst the A646 winds through the town and over the eponymous bridge. Also in Hebden, the Canal which has been a roadside companion for many miles, offering glimpses of the brightly painted barges, crosses the river to the south side of the valley. It can still be seen, but is no longer quite so accessible.
Heading out of Hebden, the A646 turns south west along the valley floor, while minor roads climb one in three gradients and head over the top of the moors towards Burnley. The road keeps in the valley as far as Todmorden; indeed the route has few steep inclines making it one of the lowest Trans-Pennine routes. To the south you can see Stoodley Pike, a rocket-style monument on top of the hills. The sections of the A646 through Hebden Bridge and Todmorden can be real crawls (although not bottlenecks in the "congestion" sense, just slow).
Section 2: Todmorden – Habergham
We go into Todmorden and turn right at a mini-roundabout wedged in between the town hall (which was built specifically to straddle the historic boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire) and the church to pass under large railway arches next to the market place. The road continues on and travels through villages including Lydgate, Cornholme and Portsmouth. These villages have numerous rows of the (in)famous old back to back houses along the side of the road, a housing type which was once widespread in the area, but largely cleared in past decades. Those that survive, are now often treasured homes. The road twists and bends, weaving under the railway several times, the scenery is also often impressive at this point with moorland dropping steeply to the road.
Just before the road crosses the county boundary, it becomes NSL, and after miles of slowly crawling through various urban areas, it is finally possible to put the foot down, albeit not for long. After a couple of bends, a short 40 limit protects a traffic-signal controlled narrow bridge. Beyond, the road twists and turns as it drops down into Holme Chapel, then Walk Mill. Back under the railway and it meets the A671 coming from the Lancashire mill town of Bacup, which marks the original end of the A646. It was, however, extended along the Burnley bypass in 1932.
The A646 heads up onto the outer part of Burnley (due to the age of the bypass it no longer goes round the town), giving extensive views over the town with Pendle Hill behind. Continuing north westwards the road has a small D2 part as it drops steeply to the junction of the A679 where most of the traffic turns west to join the M65. The A646, no longer primary, continues north over the motorway bridge into Burnley's suburbs and terminates nearby on the A671 which we met before but chooses (bravely!) to go through the centre of Burnley.
Original Author(s): Norfolktolancashire
- The A646 Trunk Road (Halifax-M65) (Detrunking) Order 2003 - The detrunking of the road between the M65 and Halifax following the 1998 consultation A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England