A city of ancient woodlands

Imagine looking across Sheffield, up onto one of the hills that dominate its landscape, and you might think of rows of terraces gently hugging the incline, or the odd tower block penetrating the skyline.

But what you’ll actually almost always see, are trees. We are a city blessed with approximately 4.5 million giant inhabitants (that's more per person than any other city in Europe), which add colour, life and variety to our urban landscape. The trees in Sheffield draw people to the outdoors – the greens, yellows and browns seem to have drifted from the countryside into the office-block greys and town-house terracottas.

They line the most humble suburban cul-de-sacs, form dense inner-city woodlands, and punctuate grand downtown spaces. There are evergreen and deciduous, ancient and infant, native and foreign, formal and natural. Sheffield even boasts a couple of mini indoor forests in the Winter Garden and Botanical Gardens.

All counted, Sheffield City Council alone manage 180 designated woodland sites, of which 70 are ancient woodland.

In Ecclesall Woods it’s easy to forget you’re in a city, as you wind your way through thick forest and open spaces perfect for al fresco dining. Walking through the woods when the bluebells are in full bloom (around May) will bring pleasure to the grimmest of days. The Woodland Discovery Centre is a great place to learn more about how important trees are to the city. The centre offers year-round activities and events for all ages.

Meanwhile the ancient Greno Woods has some of Yorkshire’s most vulnerable habitats, including mature oak woodland and heathland. It’s a great spot to forage for summer fruit, while cyclists are also attracted to the bike-friendly bridleways that pass through the woods. There’s also the chance to take part in orienteering and activities like den-building.