|Distance:||21.8 miles (35.1 km)|
|Meets:||A6181, A6177, A6176, A657, A65, A660, A659, A61, A661, A59|
|Route outline (key)|
The A658 runs in a general south-west/north-east direction from Bradford to Knaresborough. If the road was of a greater standard, it would be a neat short-cut route between the M62 and A1, but this function is performed by the M1 between Wakefield and Aberford.
Section 1: Bradford – Leeds/Bradford Airport
The road begins on the edge of Bradford city centre on the A6181 (or is it A650) Shipley Airedale road. It heads east, initially forming part of the old Leeds-Bradford road (which is now mostly the B6381). At a roundabout, it turns sharper than ninety degrees towards the north, with the B6381 continuing ahead. This is actually a longer dog-leg than the previous route, which used Otley Road rather than New Otley Road as it does today. It then sets off in a something of a meander towards Bradford's Outer Ring Road (A6177) - which means it is not the most direct route heading north-east out of the city. On the way it passes Undercliffe Cemetery, which always looks like something from a Hammer horror film!
At the A6177 junction the road gains primary status which it keeps for the remainder of its journey. It now heads downhill towards Greengates, after joining with the A6176 (which provides a potentially better route from the centre of the city). At Greengates, the road crosses the A657 - a very busy junction, often causing tremendous tailbacks in rush hour periods.
Crossing the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and River Aire at Apperley Bridge, and up the other side into Leeds Metropolitan District (with the often-defaced yellow signs!), the road then performs a semi-bypass around the village of Rawdon, crossing the A65 at a roundabout near Yeadon. This part of the road is unusual, in that heading back towards Bradford, there is a TOTSO with the B-road that goes through Rawdon (B6152); the sign to continue along the A658 southwards is remarkably small, but the two roads converge anyway. It is almost as if traffic is made to split along the two routes to share the amount of traffic on each. So, if we continue travelling northbound, we have to give way to the B6152. In fairness, the B6152 is the original route of the A658. The original number of the current route was... B6152. I know.
At the top of the hill in Yeadon, we come to Leeds Bradford Airport. Here, the road goes into a tunnel underneath the main runway. This tunnel was built as a result of the expansion of the airport, and the road becomes dual for its length. At the end of it is a roundabout with access to the airport itself.
Leeds/Bradford Airport – Knaresborough
The road, now a 50 zone and out of the main West Yorkshire urban area (but still technically within the City of Leeds), continues across a few miles of open countryside (with good views of the conurbation behind) and down Pool Bank, a fairly steep hill marking the drop down the Chevin (a ridge to the north of Leeds and Bradford). The speed limit drops to 40mph at the start of this descent.
Midway down here, the road crosses the A660 before winding down to Pool Village, the gradient becoming steeper with speed limit down to 30mph, and meeting the A659 at a mini-roundabout. The two roads multiplex briefly for the length of the village, before the A659 turns off towards Otley. A bridge takes the A658 over the River Wharfe and into North Yorkshire. (Immediately after the bridge, the B6161 goes left, forming a useful route around the west side of Harrogate.)
Here the road tends to be more free-flowing. It passes through the village of Huby, parallel to the Leeds-Harrogate railway for a while, and on to meet the A61 at Buttersyke Bar which marks the original end of the A658. The stretch of A658 after this point is relatively new (built in the early 1990s) and forms the Harrogate and Knaresborough Southern bypass. It climbs up from the roundabout - it's worth looking behind at this point, where there is a great view back towards Lower Wharfedale and Armscliffe Crag (a bunch of rocks which can be seen from miles around). Over the crest of the hill, and the road descends past Rudding Park and down towards the A661 Wetherby to Harrogate Road. Crossing this at a roundabout, the A658 heads up a hill, bypassing the picturesque town of Knaresborough, crossing the B6164 and finally ending at a roundabout with the A59 to the east of town. This point is only two miles from the A1(M).
Original Author(s): Stuart Mitchell