Walkers have been steering away from the Sheffield hotspots in lockdown

The paths out of lockdown are all around the Outdoor City, and if we know what’s good for us we’ll be out this spring exploring Sheffield’s pathways with our friend (singular) and family as well as taking our government sanctioned coffee or picnic on March 8.
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So here are a few local walking ideas from Sheffielders who’ve been steering away from parkland hotspots."For me, the Rivelin Valley is the Sheffield greenbelt at its best,” says Ted Talbot, partnership manager for Yorkshire Water and the National Trust. “It is free and accessible urban fringe countryside, looked after with meagre resources by the City Council's Parks Department as well as Sheffield Wildlife Trust and the incredible Rivelin Valley Conservation Volunteers.”

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Nearby, Hannah Isherwood and husband Greg from the Wadsley and Loxley Commoners have been exploring their local common.“One of my favourite lockdown walks is to follow France Road up from Loxley and onto Wadsley and Loxley Common,” says Hannah. "As I walk along the main footpath below Loxley Edge I think of how different the area may have looked a hundred years ago with people walking up from local villages to work in the mines and quarries. The footpath follows an old 'tramway' where the ganister from the mines would have been transported. Then there were horses, wagons, noise, tramway lines, and now it is a peaceful place with birdsong, views, weather and many, many more trees.”Across the valley is one of the favourite spots for activity academic Professor Steve Haake, chair of the parkrun Research Board, who says running injuries have forced him to see more of his surroundings this year as he walks through rather than pounding past.“My favourite place at the moment is Bole Hills on the edge of Crookes, about half a mile from where I live; it’s a rocky edge with great views and is just what I need to get out from the office – I’ve even done Zoom meetings from there!” he says.“I’ve found a beautiful ever-changing view across Rivelin Valley out to the west and people of all ages sitting on the stones having chips from the local, having a makeshift picnic, and during the snow children zooming across on sleds hastily bought from the car-spares shop.”Claire Cruikshanks from the Friends of Ecclesall Woods says her favourite family walk is the Limb Valley.“I like walking up to Whirlow Hall Farm, through the fields and then down into the valley, cutting right into the beech hanger, and then wandering back through the valley.

Steve Haake walking in the Porter ValleySteve Haake walking in the Porter Valley
Steve Haake walking in the Porter Valley
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"If I am with my kids they insist we go to Whinfell Quarry Gardens where we saw newts in the little rockery ponds last summer. I'm so grateful to the volunteers who keep this place incredibly lovely.”

Claire’s petition for safer crossings through Ecclesall Woods over Abbey Lane has almost 3,000 signatures already, thanks to the popularity of the woods. “Walking during the pandemic has made us all love where we live so much more than before,” she says.Nabil Abbas from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust heads east for his favourite walk, at Woodhouse Washlands, on the banks of the River Rother between Woodhouse Mill and Rother Valley Country Park.

“It's one of the best places to see wetland wildlife in Sheffield,” he says.

Some of the walks have amazing viewsSome of the walks have amazing views
Some of the walks have amazing views

" On brisk wintry walks I've enjoyed seeing wetland and river-dwelling birds like cormorants, reed buntings, goosander and snipe. In spring the valley bursts into life, with explosions of white blossoms on the blackthorn and hawthorn trees and the heartwarming sights and sounds of the singing skylarks and swallows and martins feeding up on insects as they return from Africa.

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On warm summer days the Washlands are alive with dragonflies and damselflies, an amazing 15 species live on the reserve, along with a whole range of colourful butterflies.”Ted Talbot says many countryside sites saw a 100 per cent increase in visitor numbers over the last year: “We have fallen in love with our green and pleasant land again like never before, so let’s all acknowledge our debt to local green spaces.”For more information visit http://www.walc.epizy.com; http://rivelinvalley.org.uk; https://friendsofecclesallwoods.org.uk; https://www.wildsheffield.com/woodhouse-washlands

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.