Most of the surfaces and gradients make it a relatively easy trail, suitable for cyclists, pushchairs and wheelchair users. The section between Stockport and Barnsley is hilly, especially near Woodhead, and not all sections or barriers are accessible for users of wheelchairs or non-standard cycles. Some parts are also open to horse riding.
The trail is administered from a central office in Barnsley, which is responsible for promotion and allocation of funding. However, the twenty-seven local authorities whose areas the trail runs through are responsible for management of the trail within their boundaries.
The idea originated from Barnsley, where the head office is now based. Work on the trail started in 1999. Early development was boosted by a £5 million investment by the Millennium Commission. The trail was officially opened in September 2001. However, the route was not fully completed until late 2004. It cost £60 million to construct.