Volunteers searching for common people like you

Wadsley and Loxley Common, a short walk from Hillsborough, is a place of legend. Long ago there was at least one gruesome murder on the common, and many subsequent ghost reports. More recently, local historians reckon they’ve found clear evidence that Robin Hood (aka Robin of Loxley) was born near Loxley Common.
Sunlight and Trees - Photo by Hannah IsherwoodSunlight and Trees - Photo by Hannah Isherwood
Sunlight and Trees - Photo by Hannah Isherwood

This year, the volunteers of the Wadsley and Loxley Commoners (WALC) are celebrating their 30th anniversary, firstly with a photo competition and an online photo gallery to which all Sheffielders are invited to contribute. The photos here are some of the first to be submitted, along with pictures taken by WALC members over the years.

Thanks to a donation from a WALC supporter there are prizes so each winner (in three subject areas and two age categories) will receive £25 and a framed print of their photograph. (The competition is open to amateurs only, but professional photographers can also submit their photos for the online gallery.)

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“The competition is a completely new venture for us, so we are feeling our way but we are launching it in a spirit of fun and inclusivity and are hoping that everyone will engage with that spirit too,” said Cathy Hill from WALC. The categories are: Wonderful Wildlife, Light and Landscape and Nature’s Art. (If you do manage to capture a photo of one of the Wadsley ghosts, perhaps Light and Landscape is the best choice).

Autumn Woodland by Loxley CrawshawAutumn Woodland by Loxley Crawshaw
Autumn Woodland by Loxley Crawshaw

Cathy said she hoped the competition would bring in new visitors to the area, who’ll find plenty to photograph. “They’ll find a space where they can wander about, through a range of habitats and landscapes in quite a small area, with heathland, crags, quarries, old and new woodland. For me it’s an area where you can wander off the beaten track and nearly get lost, but eventually you always find yourself again.”

Her own photos capture patterns in nature, which require observation and imagination rather than fancy camera equipment. Cathy says many of her photos were taken on a cheap mobile phone, and she stressed that photos submitted could be taken on any kind of camera. “You definitely don’t need an expensive camera to take part,” she said.

The competition runs until the end of August, and Cathy says it’s an ideal summer holiday project. (More details at: http://www.walc.epizy.com/photocomp/)

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Wadsley and Loxley Common is technically two old sections of common land (Loxley on the west and Wadsley to the east of the Loxley Edge ridge) and is popular with walkers, wildlife watchers, runners and cyclists.

Possible Stone Circle - Photo by Alan SmithPossible Stone Circle - Photo by Alan Smith
Possible Stone Circle - Photo by Alan Smith

The Commoners are hosting a Fun Day on the common on Saturday, July 1, with music, craft activities, and wildlife and history walks. The hope is that the event will bring in families, maybe with a picnic. There’s even a treasure hunt, Cathy added. The WALC volunteers carry out litter picking and conservation work on the common, and clear invasive plants and younger birch and oak saplings to help preserve the rare lowland heath environment. Their aim to maintain a variety of habitats on the commons will help increase biodiversity, they say.

Cathy Hill says one of the aims for WALC now is to encourage more young people to join in the voluntary work, as some of the WALC stalwarts have been volunteering since WALC began. “We need a new generation,” she said. There have been many challenges in the work, Cathy added, like maintaining a good relationship with the council’s countryside service during waves of funding cuts, keeping dozens of volunteers happy in their work and keeping on top of changing science and policies about land management.

“WALC have been going for thirty years now, to keep an eye on the common, trying to look after the wildlife, and preserving it as an amenity for local people,” said Cathy. “That seems worth celebrating, we think.” See - http://www.walc.epizy.com