Explore new places

David Bocking recently spoke to Jon Dallow (Parks & Woodlands Officer for Sheffield City Council) about getting out and about in the current situation, in which on the one hand the outdoors is being used more (which is to be celebrated) but it’s making some spots overly busy and creating erosion and difficulties in keeping distances. This is David’s article, in which Jon has some great suggestions for exploring the places on our doorstep that you might not know about.
First of all, it was a bit of a head scratch when the move to Tier 3 was announced. And then the new lockdown. I think, just now in particular, it’s a good idea to stay local.

But actually we still have more wonderful parks, woodland and countryside, canals and rivers and nature reserves within our still locked down Sheffield than any other northern city. We feel passionate about these places and need them more than ever as we try and focus on the small important things and distract ourselves from the big picture.

But before you dash off to discover the wonders and navigational challenges of climbing to the summit of Sheffield’s highest peak, or as you realise that there is still plenty of gritstone and loads of tracks and trails left to enjoy, I think we need to have a quick chat before you head back out.

For a start, it’s colder, wetter and muddier, so pack that extra coat and dig out your walking boots, wellies, your grippy trainers and embrace wooly or waterproof socks, so you can take the sludge and mud in your stride. (That puddle of standing water is often the firmest most solid bit and would barely cover over your feet — honest !!)

And since the first Lockdown, the outdoors has got busy. We have seen more people than ever in our greenspace and great outdoors, having picnics in the parks or exploring the city off the beaten track. This has been joyous to see.

But this extra use of our green spaces has brought many additional challenges, and at times the golden frame that surrounds Sheffield on many sides has felt more and more like a car park.

We don’t yet know how things will settle. Recent weekends have been as busy as ever and we now know that this new, new normal will be with us for a while. It is going to get cold wet and muddy — and potentially even more congested?

A good technique is to approach such conditions and each other with a smile, and if your chosen spot is too full, try and be flexible and move on. So, where to start?

Just get out your back door. Drop the car and explore. Here are just a few suggestions or avenues to find on the Outdoor City’s doorstep:

Try the Stocksbridge & Bradfield Walkers are Welcome websites, or the Outdoor City run routes

Some Places to Go:
Sheffield Canal and Upper and Lower Don
Woodhouse Washlands
Shirebrook Valley, Parkwood Springs, Woolley Woods

The Centre in the Park cafe, Norfolk Park

The views from Wincobank Hill and Manor Lodge, or 70 Acre Hill.
Wharncliffe Heath crags and woods

Ultimately, why not get yourself the 1:25,000 Sheffield map, a good coat and a sense of adventure, then pack a snack and drink and maybe a torch. Maybe go out and see the sun rise at dawn, and feel the crisp crunch of autumnal leaves out your back door?