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IF the past makes us who we are, there is an awful lot for young Sheffielders to learn with Heritage Open Days.

IF the past makes us who we are, there is an awful lot for young Sheffielders to learn with Heritage Open Days.

They are taking place across South Yorkshire this weekend allowing free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open or would normally charge an entrance fee.

It is a great chance to take the whole family out, free of charge and a fun way for all generations to learn.

In Sheffield there are lots of different events offering young people the chance to learn about where they live.

The aim is to inspire a new generation of citizens to be involved and encourage them to promote, preserve and celebrate their neighbourhoods.

Fir Vale Fun day . Pictured at the Fir Vale Fun day in Osgathorpe Park are ... Helen Hornby of the River Stewardship company responsible for the Blue Loop project helps Ria and Sophia Khan look at insects through a magnifier.

Fir Vale Fun day . Pictured at the Fir Vale Fun day in Osgathorpe Park are ... Helen Hornby of the River Stewardship company responsible for the Blue Loop project helps Ria and Sophia Khan look at insects through a magnifier.

One is a fun-packed weekend of discovery and activities for residents and visitors of all ages at Victoria Quays.

It has been organised by The Blue Loop, a group set up to promote the continuous loop of waterways and riverside walkways in the heart of Sheffield, made up of The River Don and Tinsley Canal.

The route travels for eight miles from the city centre and flows close by the communities of Burngreave, Attercliffe, Darnall and Tinsley.

Kate Beaumont, marketing and development officer at Groundwork Sheffield said: “It is important to learn about it as our heritage makes us who we are.

Escafeld Medieval Society at Manor Lodge: Lady Ann of Monaghon (aka Annmarie Connolly) preparing food for the tournament

Escafeld Medieval Society at Manor Lodge: Lady Ann of Monaghon (aka Annmarie Connolly) preparing food for the tournament

“Sheffield was built on the manufacturing industry, most of which was based in the East End of Sheffield to take advantage of the transport links out of the city. The coal to fuel the industry was brought in along the Tinsley Canal and stored at the Quays.

“There aren’t many Sheffielders whose parents and grandparents didn’t work in the steel/cutlery industry working long hours often in poor conditions which has made us as tough as steel.

“Sheffield is known across the globe for its excellent steel made by expert crafts men born and bred in this county.”

The Sheffield Basin was renamed Victoria Quays during redevelopment in the 1990s but was first opened in 1819.

Escafeld Medieval Society at Manor Lodge: Sharron Holmes (ak Sharron De Meer) and Shannon Connolly (aka Shannon of Monaghon -3) enjoying a bit to eat

Escafeld Medieval Society at Manor Lodge: Sharron Holmes (ak Sharron De Meer) and Shannon Connolly (aka Shannon of Monaghon -3) enjoying a bit to eat

It includes many listed buildings and structures such as the Grain warehouse and the Arches which make the whole site of great historical interest.

On Saturday a guided walk of the quays will transport visitors back to their heyday with stories and descriptions of how the area was once used.

Families can join conservationists as they help to protect local wildlife in a practical conservation session – but are urged to wear old clothing.

Visitors can also take a boat trip along the canal attempting to spot some of the wildlife while hearing about the area’s industrial heritage.

The film screening for the Saturday matinee will be The Full Monty which was partly filmed on the canal.

On Sunday there is a chance to join Sheffield Rangers as they lead an eight-mile full loop walk along the Tinsley Canal and River Don.

Bundlebean images

Bundlebean images

Or the more adventurous can get closer to the water with Sheffield City Kayak Club.

Tony Hewins from the Blue Loop Troop volunteers will be there with his historic coracle – a small oval man-made boat similar to half a walnut shell.

There will also be nature trails, arts and crafts for younger visitors.

Helen Hornby, Blue Loop river steward, wants to get as many people as possible enjoying the sights and sounds of Sheffield’s waterways.

She said: “This is a lovely area with abundant wildlife and historic features to discover. The Blue Loop runs a huge range of events and activities down by the water, from minibeast hunts to angling taster sessions, local history walks to guided bike rides. So this is your chance; if you have never been before then come and join us. We really look forward to seeing you this weekend.”

The Blue Loop project has received money from Natural England as part of its £28.75 million Access to Nature programme, funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme.

Entry to the Heritage Weekend is free but there is a charge for some activities.

Manor Lodge holds a special place in Sheffield’s history and some of its most famous characters will be brought to life on Saturday.

Families can step back hundreds of years and try their hands at ancient games as well as picking up a few traditional skills.

There is a chance to make rope, meet a longbow maker, crawl under the warrener’s net and experience a rabbit’s view using a warrener’s trap.

Or why not try on an archer’s padded jack, helmet, sword and longbow or even get to grips with a crossbow.

Youngsters can meet George the marionette and the glove puppets, play medieval games and watch a demonstration of ancient archery.

The Laxton Archers historical re-enactment society will be displaying their skills as they show what life was like for families in the 15th century.

Visitors can also follow a free guided tour round the ruins of Manor Lodge and the 16th century Turret House while learning about the history of the site.

Mark Thompson of Sheffield Auction Gallery will be on site on Sunday from 12.30pm and for a £2 charge will value visitors’ antiques, heirlooms and treasures.

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “Heritage Open Days is about people and places; it celebrates community and reflects the importance of the built environment in our lives and to our quality of life.

“It is organised by local people who dedicate their spare time to opening properties and staging activities, and it is their knowledge and enthusiasm that makes Heritage Open Days happen.”

Find out more at www.theblueloop.org, www.manorlodge.org.uk, or www.heritageopendays.org.uk

TRIED AND TESTED

School Swim Kits

Just when you think you’ve survived the great hunt for school uniform, something extra always pops up.

If your kids are about to start swimming lessons then Swimbabes kits might have the answer and save you hunting around more shops.

The school swim kit contains all the essentials your little swimmer will need from leading swimwear supplier Zoggs.

The kit includes junior goggles, a swim cap and swim wear in a Zoggs rucksack bag.

There’s different kits for boys and girls, ages seven to 14, and you’ll find them at www.swimbabes.co.uk starting at £16.99.

Snuguns

We hate to admit that the weather is getting colder when we don’t even seem to have had much summer sun, but maybe these cute additions to winter wear will ease the pain.

Described as big hugs for little hands, they went down a treat with youngsters and their parents.

The trick to Snuguns is the long arm which keeps the mitten in place, although at first one youngster was convinced they looked more like socks.

They were, of course, designed by a mum and regardless of anything else are worth investing in simply because they really do stay on.

Snuguns come in one size suitable for children aged between six and 48 months. They cost £11.99 for bugs designs or £9.99 for colours at www.snuguns.com

Bundlebean

Here is another clever new solution to an old age problem facing parents.

The Bundlebean is a ‘5 in 1 blanket’ – or as one wiser, older (ok, he was only five) brother put it: “It’s a sleeping bag for babies that you can move around.”

It is made of a waterproof nylon shell, lined with fleece and has a zip-seam but most importantly fits onto any pushchair, car seat, bike seat or front style baby carrier.

So you don’t have to unwrap your baby to get them from one place to another and it can even open up to make a play-mat or picnic rug.

Bundlebeans cost £29.99 from www.bundlebean.com

The Escafeld Society who were at the last friends Fun day plus the Friends in costume.

The Escafeld Society who were at the last friends Fun day plus the Friends in costume.