Are we walking or hiking? Maybe we’re rambling? We settled on ‘urban hiking’, but with the Sheffield Round Walk it’s hard to tell!
In a bid to spend this year ticking off some classic hill and mountain walking challenges, a friend and I had planned to walk Edale Skyline this weekend. 9 Edges would come later on in the year, the Welsh 3000s a little after that. The idea was to gradually build up to the Welsh 3000s, but as always covid had other ideas!
So what to do instead? As much as it would feel heroic to go out and walk 36 miles over 15 peaks post lockdown… After months of slumping on the sofa or over our desks, it’s quite nice to build up to these things. So we looked a little closer to home for this month’s challenge.
The Sheffield Round Walk is a 15 mile loop around south west Sheffield: up Porter Valley, down Limb Valley, past Sheaf Valley and back through Gleadless. The time spent in woodland is enough to make you forget you’re in the city, but glimpses Sheffield’s history and industry provides plenty of opportunities to learn more about where you live too.
The walk took us 6 hours, including a hot chocolate at the Norfolk Arms, sandwiches at Graves Park and a stop at every single canine creature so that Jim the dog could sniff them. The terrain ranged from pavement to muddy woodland paths, and whilst 650m ascent doesn’t seem like much on paper we certainly needed that chunk of Toblerone to get us up Brincliffe Edge in the last few miles. If you’re not keen on carrying your sandwiches, there are ample opportunities for refreshment on the way round. The chip butties at Forge Dam come highly recommended, as do the Norfolk Arms’ hot chocolates!
But most importantly: although we’d spent our day in the city boundaries, we still felt that same sense of satisfaction, relief and achievement on reaching the finish at Endcliffe Park that you’d get from a big day on the hill.
If you’re interested in planning some post lockdown hill and mountain walking challenges, take a look at our challenge events.
Whether you choose to walk the route in a day, or break it into more manageable portions, I’d recommend taking the Sheffield Round Walk guidebook from Sheffield publisher Vertebrate Publishing with you. Like any walk out on the hill, this one is very much enhanced by the kind of interesting local facts that interesting local Jon Barton shares in this very guidebook.
Currently all books from Vertebrate Publishing are 20% off, and you can find the Sheffield Round Walk guidebook here.
A few highlights from the Sheffield Round Walk
Until the 1930s the Shepherd’s Wheel in Whiteley Woods was a grinding workshop powered by the water of Porter Brook. Now a museum, the wheel is a unique working example of Sheffield knife grinding industry. If you’re lucky you’ll see a heron stalking fish in the Porter Brook as you follow it upstream to the Mayfield Alpacas.
Limb Valley is a personal favourite, following Limb Brook from just below its rise, through farmland to Whirlow Brook Park. Eventually you’re delivered at Ecclesall woods, an ancient woodland including Beech, Sycamore, Alder, Ash and Hazel.
Lady Spring Wood is somewhere I rarely visit, but always vow to go back to. Bluebells and daffodils in summer, blackberries in autumn, it drops you off at Beauchief Abbey. Founded in the 12th century, only the west tower remains as much of the stone was used to build Beauchief Hall in the 17th century. Chancet Wood leads you to the immense Graves park where a quick detour will find Tamworth pigs, Highland Cattle and Jacob sheep.
The ancient Gleadless Valley Woods brings you down to Meersbrook Park and the Bishop’s house. This is probably the only surviving Tudor building in Norton Lees, then a small village about 2 miles from Sheffield. Your legs breathe a sigh of relief after a last short ascent through Brincliffe Edge (a personal favourite) and Chelsea Park.