A number of reservoirs were built on the moorland surrounding Sheffield in the mid-to-late 19th century. Collecting hundreds of millions of gallons of water, they were originally designed to keep the city’s mills of industry in motion and its growing population hydrated. Of these reservoirs, the closest to Sheffield's once industrial centre is Damflask, named after the village which was washed away, never to be rebuilt, in the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864. This reservoir is one of the most picturesque spots within the city's boundaries today, and can be easily reached by bike.
In the Loxley Valley, close to Low Bradfield, Damflask Reservoir is a popular spot for fishing, its surrounding paths and woodlands well-tramped by walkers. The path immediately surrounding the Damflask is solely for those on foot. The roads leading up to it, though – from the western reaches of Sheffield, through the Rivelin and Loxley Valleys – make for a ride that perfectly captures the city-country balance that so many people fall for in Sheffield. If your legs are up to it, continue through the moors and woodland to call in on nearby reservoirs Agden, Dale Dike and Strines, too.
Begin with a cuppa at Rivelin Park Cafe, on the scenic Rivelin Valley Nature Trail, downhill from the leafy suburb of Walkley. There’s parking on Rivelin Valley Road, next to the paddling pools.
The 8-mile ride:
Follow the River Rivelin northwards along Rivelin Valley Road. Cross the Rivelin where it meets the River Loxley, onto Holme Lane. Head left-right-left onto Loxley Road.
Cross the bridge where the Rivelin meets the River Loxley, and immediately turn left. Go right onto Loxley Road, following it round to the left.
Stay on Loxley Road as it leads westwards for 2.7 miles, past Loxley and Storrs and out of the city. Damflask Reservoir will come into sight on the left. Pause, and take in the view.
After basking by the water's edge, it's time to take to your handlebars again and head back towards the city. You now want to be on the B6076, off to the left from Loxley Road, signposted in the direction of Stannington. Follow the curve of the reservoir, before turning left onto Briers House Lane.
Stick to this road all the way down through Dungworth, Hill Top, past the Our Cow Molly farm (delicious ice-cream in the parlour, open Wednesday-Sunday).
Turn right at Hollins Lane, and right again to return to the start point on Rivelin Valley Road.
Or, for a longer ride:
If your legs are up for some serious climbing, turn the ride into a 20-miler and take in a few more reservoirs. Peddle onwards up Loxley Road when you come to Damflask Reservoir, passing Bradfield Brewery on the left.
Rest at the top with a cooling drink at the Old Horns Inn – whose beer garden boasts a stunner of a view. You're close here to the 2014 Tour de France's "Côte de Bradfield" stretch.
Continue from the pub up Brown House Lane, bearing left at the fork in the road onto Penistone Road. Stay on Penistone Road for almost 2 miles, with Agden Reservoir to your left and Broomhead Reservoir off to your right.
Turn left onto Mortimer Road. Stay on the road for 6 miles, passing Dale Dike followed by Strines Reservoir through the trees to the left. Look out for Boots Folly on the hillside: the story goes that Charles Boot, of nearby Sugworth Hall, had the folly built in 1927 to give his workmen something to do during the Depression. The spiral staircase is long gone, but it once offered glorious views of the reservoir and Bradfield Dale – and gave Boot a perfect lookout onto his wife's grave.
Carry on out onto open roads after the 13th-century Strines Inn, with views of Mam Tor and Win Hill on the horizon. At Manchester Road (A57), follow the signpost left towards Sheffield.
After 4.3 miles, fork left onto Rivelin Valley Road, following it for a couple of miles back to the starting point.