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Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters

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Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters
Author: Penistone Line, Published: 22 Sep 2017 Walk Rating:star0 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide star0 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide star0 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide star0 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide star0 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide
South Yorkshire, Barnsley
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters
Length: 8 miles,  Difficulty: boot Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide
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A 7.5 mile linear walk from Barnsley rail station to Wombwell rail station in South Yorkshire, discovering some of the beautiful green spaces and attractions between these two towns. Along the way you will discover a pretty section of the Barnsley Canal, the beautiful lakes and parkland of Dearne Valley Country Park, the substantial ruins of Monk Bretton Abbey, stretches of former train lines and the extensive cemetery in Wombwell. The return leg can be completed via a simple 6 minute train journey.

The walk includes just a few gentle gradients and follows surfaced paths for the majority of the route. There are a couple of stretches over grass that can be muddy. There are no stiles, gates or livestock on route, but you will need to negotiate two flights of steps, a few staggered barriers and some squeeze gaps. There are a few road crossings that need care and you will be sharing some of the old rail paths with cyclists. Allow 3.5 hours.

This walk is one of the Penistone Line Collection, published through a collaboration between The Penistone Line Partnership and iFootpath to help visitors discover the beautiful countryside and attractions accessible by train between Huddersfield and Sheffield.

The walk starts from Barnsley rail station making it ideal for arriving by public transport. If you are coming by car, the station has its own car park. Approximate post code S71 1BP. The return leg is via train, and trains normally run every 30 mins Mon-Sat and every hour on Sundays, but please check before you travel.

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Walk Sections

Start to Barnsley Canal
Start to Barnsley Canal

Start point: 53.5544 lat, -1.477 long
End point: 53.5584 lat, -1.4682 long

Leave the Barnsley Station via the Platform 1 exit (east side), cross over the road to the far pavement and turn left along this, passing a station car park on your left. Before you reach the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill, turn right into the small side road, Mottram Way, and at the T-junction turn right again. After passing the last house on your left, turn left down the cobbled slope and, as you reach the next road, dog-leg right then left to join the pavement directly alongside the dual carriageway (which runs on your right).

Cross over the next side road, Denton Street, and continue down to reach the roundabout. Use the four pedestrian crossings – right, left, right and left – to cross over the dual carriageway and the retail park access road. Turn left along the pavement and, before you reach the gable end of the houses ahead, turn right through the metal gate into Dearne Valley Park.

Keep ahead on the tarmac path leading you into the park. Keep straight ahead through the parking area and pass alongside the vehicle barrier at the far end to join a tarmac path with the Barnsley Canal now running on your right.

Barnsley Canal to Picnic Area
Barnsley Canal to Picnic Area

Start point: 53.5584 lat, -1.4682 long
End point: 53.5556 lat, -1.4573 long

The canal was built in the 1790s, creating a 15-mile link from Barnby Basin through Barnsley and on to a junction with the Aire and Calder Navigation near Wakefield. It was used to transport the coal reserves mined around the Barnsley area to the wider market. Railways arrived in the area in the 1840s, but the canal route remained profitable until 1942. The canal was abandoned soon after but a volunteer restoration group is working to restore some sections.

Further along, the towpath swings left to reach a tarmac square with benches. Turn left through this, go down the steps and then keep straight ahead to cross the bridge over the River Dearne. At the far side, do NOT take the steps up ahead, instead turn right down some more steps and bear left to join the woodland track with the river running down to your right.

The track soon narrows to a path and continues along a wide grass avenue with trees each side, with the river across to your right and several lakes across to your left. Dearne Valley Country Park runs alongside the river for two miles from the edge of Barnsley to the Trans Pennine Trail viaduct at Lundwood, and consists of a network of footpaths surrounding the River Dearne, lakes and woodland. This beautiful landscape is understandably popular with walkers, runners and other visitors.

Further along, ignore the turning on your left and keep ahead to pass a carved wooden miner’s helmet, marking the start of the picnic area which has a beautiful stretch of lake on your left.

Picnic Area to Grange Bridge
Picnic Area to Grange Bridge

Start point: 53.5556 lat, -1.4573 long
End point: 53.5518 lat, -1.4399 long

At the end of the picnic area you will come to a T-junction in the path, with a fence ahead. Turn left and cross the small bridge ahead which leads you over the lake overflow. Continue to the corner of the lake on your left, where you will reach a crossroads of paths with a small black waymarker post. Turn right and follow the narrow path winding through the trees, soon with the river running on your right.

Ignore the steps up to your left, instead keep ahead to follow the grass avenue with the river still on your right. Your path narrows again, leads you past a horse paddock on your right and passes through a stone wall squeeze gap to reach a junction with the road.

Cross the road (with care) diagonally left to join the signed public footpath. Follow this as it swings left to reach a staggered crossroads of tarmac paths. Go straight ahead, passing through this next section of park with the river running across to your right (but mostly out of sight). Further along, the path swings right to merge with another path and then swings left, finally emerging to a junction with the road alongside Grange Bridge.

Grange Bridge to Monk Bretton Priory
Grange Bridge to Monk Bretton Priory

Start point: 53.5518 lat, -1.4399 long
End point: 53.5543 lat, -1.4385 long

Cross over the road with care and go straight ahead to join the tarmac path which swings left and then right into the next stretch of park. 70 metres beyond this right bend, you will see a tarmac side path on your left. Turn left along this to reach the end of a residential road.

Keep ahead along the tarmac path, pass under the old stone arches and through a staggered barrier to reach another residential road. Go ahead along the road, passing a stone cottage and more stone ruins on your right. At the end of the stone wall on your right, turn sharp right to reach the entrance gates for Monk Bretton Priory. The priory is managed by English Heritage, offers free entry and is normally open every day (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and News Year’s Day) from 10am to 3pm. The ruins are very extensive and are well worth exploring in detail. There are several information boards with historical and architectural details, or simply keep reading for a summary of the site’s history.

Monk Bretton Priory is a ruined medieval priory. It was founded in 1154 as the Priory of St Mary Magdalene of Lund, but over time adopted the name of the nearby village, Monk Bretton. Today you are surrounded by housing estates and developments, but when the monastery was built it was a peaceful and secluded site in the wooded valley of the River Dearne. After a bitter feud between houses was resolved in 1281, Monk Bretton seceded from the Cluniac Order and became a Benedictine house. From this point the priory enjoyed a long period of remarkable stability. In 1295, it housed 13 Monks and a Prior, and there was exactly the same number at its closure in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Parts of the priory were plundered for building materials, but in 1589 the estate was bought by the Earl of Shrewsbury, and the west range of the cloister was converted into a country house for his son Henry. The building changed hands several times before coming into state stewardship in 1932. Little remains of the church but, thanks to its use as a country house, large parts of the cloisters, administrative buildings and gatehouse are better preserved.

Monk Bretton Priory to Doncaster Road
Monk Bretton Priory to Doncaster Road

Start point: 53.5543 lat, -1.4385 long
End point: 53.546 lat, -1.4381 long

When you are ready to continue, head back through the entrance gate and turn sharp left to retrace your steps back down the lane, through the staggered barrier and arches, and back to the T-junction with the parkland path. Turn left through the remainder of the parkland and, as you approach the tall former rail bridge ahead, follow the tarmac path as it swings left, heading up to the slope to reach a T-junction with the former rail line.

Turn right along the converted railway path, crossing over the bridge which leads you over the parkland and high over the River Dearne. The path swings left to reach a crossroads. Turn right, signed as the Trans Pennine Trail South, and follow this tree-lined tarmac path (still part of the former rail line). Eventually you will emerge (via a horse gate or cycle squeeze) to a junction with the road, Doncaster Road.

Doncaster Road to Dove Valley Trail
Doncaster Road to Dove Valley Trail

Start point: 53.546 lat, -1.4381 long
End point: 53.5342 lat, -1.4127 long

On the opposite side of the road you will see a choice of two paths through staggered barriers. Cross over to take the left-hand of these two paths, a tarmac path which swings steadily right leading you up to a junction of paths with a Trans Pennine Trail fingerpost just to your left. Turn left to join another stretch of old rail line, signed as the Trans Pennine Trail towards Wombwell, and crossing the tall-sided metal bridge which crosses the Stairfoot Roundabout below.

Almost immediately afterwards, you will see information boards on your right. These explain the history of Stairfoot Station which once occupied this site, an important hub for transporting commodities produced here including glass and bricks.

Now simply keep ahead on the tarmac bridleway, initially running alongside a road on your right and then bearing left away from this. Pass through the staggered barrier and follow the tarmac path winding ahead around the site of former works. Further along, your path straightens out once again (passing through a horse gate or cycle squeeze) and continuing directly ahead. Continue for just over half a mile to reach a large, arch-shaped sign, which marks the junction between two branches of the old railway. Keep straight ahead here to continue on the rail path, now part of the Dove Valley Trail.

Dove Valley Trail to Wombwell Cemetery
Dove Valley Trail to Wombwell Cemetery

Start point: 53.5342 lat, -1.4127 long
End point: 53.5233 lat, -1.4035 long

Keep ahead and you will emerge to a junction with a road, Bradberry Balk Lane. Cross over and go straight ahead on the Dove Valley Trail. You will emerge to the next road, an access road known as Dove Valley Way. Here you have two choices.

If you are walking at a time when the traffic is heavy, you may want to turn right here and use the footbridge visible to cross the A-road. However, most of the time you should be fine to avoid climbing this bridge, so go ahead to continue on the tarmac bridleway, soon emerging to the next small road, Littlefield Lane. Cross over the road but do NOT continue on the bridleway, instead turn right along the pavement to reach the roundabout. Use the designated drop-kerb crossing point to cross the road and go straight ahead on the tarmac slope uphill. At the top, pass the opposite end of the bridge and keep ahead, climbing along a residential road.

Stay along the right-hand pavement to reach a crossroads. Cross over and go straight ahead into Cemetery Road. Continue almost to the T-junction at the top, where you will see the gates for Wombwell Cemetery on your right. NOTE: The next stretch of our walks leads you through this cemetery, but should you be walking in the evening when the gates are closed, you can continue to the T-junction ahead and turn right along the top boundary instead.

Wombwell Cemetery to Aldham House Lane
Wombwell Cemetery to Aldham House Lane

Start point: 53.5233 lat, -1.4035 long
End point: 53.5228 lat, -1.4164 long

Turn right through the cemetery gates and keep ahead to pass between two large chapel buildings. This is the perfect spot to pause and understand your surroundings. Wombwell Cemetery opened in 1868 and contains two gothic chapels. Sadly, the cemetery and chapels fell into disrepair in the late 1900s before a group of volunteers, Friends of Wombwell Cemetery took over its care in 2002. One chapel (on your left) had already lost its roof in a fire, but today houses an open-air peace garden, whilst the other (on your right) has been fully restored and acts as a community hub. The cemetery has several interesting graves if you have time to explore. A stone football marks the grave of Mark Jones, one of the eight Manchester United players killed in the Munich Air Disaster in February 1958. A stone violin marks the grave of Willie Johnson, a violinist for a string band that once played across Wombwell and Barnsley.

When you are ready to continue, keep ahead on the path beyond the two chapels. Keep straight ahead at the first small crossroads of paths and, at the second small crossroads turn left. Go straight ahead at the circular grass junction and exit via the gates to reach the road, Summer Lane.

Turn right along the pavement, passing the remainder of the cemetery on your right. At the mini roundabout go straight ahead, still on Summer Lane, and follow this all the way to the crossroads with the main road, Aldham House Lane.

Aldham House Lane to End
Aldham House Lane to End

Start point: 53.5228 lat, -1.4164 long
End point: 53.5173 lat, -1.4158 long

Cross over the main road with care and go straight ahead into the small tarmac lane ahead (taking care of any occasional traffic). Follow the lane for about 400 metres and then look for a vehicle barrier on your left. NOTE: Sadly, this lower part of Summer Lane and the area in front of this barrier has a history of fly-tipping (so watch feet and paws!), but any issues quickly end once you are past the barrier. Turn left alongside the barrier and follow the tarmac and grass track leading you between hedges and trees. At the far end, emerge alongside the vehicle barrier and you will see Wombwell rail station on your right. From this station, you can catch a Penistone Line train back to Barnsley where the walk began.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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network Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by the author Penistone and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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2 gallery images for "Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters"

9081_0Penistone1506107185 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2017
Wombwell Cemetery opened in 1868 and contains two gothic chapels this is one is an open-air peace garden
9081_0Penistone1506108199 Penistone Line: Barnsley Canal and Cloisters Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2017
Monk Bretton Priory

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