27 August 2015

It’s the UK’S Outdoor City, and officially one of Europe’s greenest cities, with a third of the city within the Peak District National Park and two million trees – four for every person.

But not many people know just how many open spaces lie within Sheffield, and might be surprised to find some of the hidden green gems on their doorsteps.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “Here in Sheffield we are so lucky to have such an abundance of beautiful, green open spaces.

“But while almost everyone knows about the restored monuments in Weston Park, the Highland cattle at Graves and the ponds and woods at Endcliffe, some of our city parks and woodlands aren’t as well-known.

“This summer is an ideal opportunity for people to get out and about and explore the parks on their doorsteps.”

Sheffield City Council manages just over 800 green spaces, including 95 parks and recreation grounds. Together, these make up more than 3,602 hectares of open space.

And here are just some of the very special green spaces that aren’t yet on everyone’s mental map:

  • Blacka Moor. The largest nature reserve managed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, Blacka Moor is a spectacular spot for a walk in the Peak District National Park. Just off the A625 Hathersage Road, this Site of Special Scientific Interest is home to red deer, rare birds and bilberry bumblebees. Its rare heathland habitat is also used for cattle grazing, to help its development.


  • Chelsea Park. This Nether Edge gem may be dwarfed in size by its popular big brothers Endcliffe Park and Millhouses Park, but is a scenic spot between Chelsea Road and Brincliffe Edge in which to settle down with a good book. Look out for the Narnia-esque lamppost nearby…


  • Cholera Monument Grounds. Recently spruced up with newly-planted wildflowers, this small park is just a short walk from Sheffield city centre and has fantastic views over the city. The monument itself pays tribute to more than 400 victims of the cholera outbreak of 1832, most of whom are buried here. The grounds were presented to the city by the Duke of Norfolk in 1930, and can now be accessed through the scenic Clay Wood green link from Norfolk Park.


  • General Cemetery. Nestled just off Ecclesall Road, the General Cemetery comes to life each year for the Sharrow Lantern Carnival – but deserves to be busier far more often than that. Opened in 1836 and closed to burials in 1978, the cemetery is a Grade Two-listed landscape and houses many monuments of interest, including Greek Doric and Egyptian-style buildings. Sheffield City Council is currently looking at proposals to restore the cemetery grounds, and has recently carried out a public consultation to explore the options further.


  • Glen Howe. Arguably Sheffeld parks’ best-kept secret, Glen Howe, at Wharncliffe Side, covers 19 acres in the Tinker Brook valley, a tributary of the River Don. Home to fungi, rare plants and animals found only in ancient woodlands, it also features a Grade Two-listed packhorse bridge.


  • Heathlands Park. This hidden gem of Halfway has play facilities, wildlife areas, community space and a sports pitch, over two acres. A quiet two-hectare spot, close to the north-east Derbyshire border, it was created as an area of green space between the Heathlands and Oxclose Park estates.


  • Lowfield Park and U-Mix centre. A playground, two floodlit artificial football pitches and a cycle path are among the attractions at this urban park just outside the city centre, near Bramall Lane. The U-Mix centre has a pay-as-you-go fitness centre with no membership required, as well as a dance studio, recording studio, meeting rooms and an IT suite available for public hire.


  • Manor Fields Park. Sheffield’s newest Green Flag-award winning park, Manor Fields was a derelict wasteland just 15 years ago but, this year, has been given the country’s top awards for parks and open spaces. Part of “Sheffield Park” from the 1400s until the 1600s, this was originally a large hunting estate for the lords of the Manor of Sheffield. One tree, called the Ladies Oak, could shelter 200 horsemen, and the trunks of some trees were more than five metres in diameter. After the hunting use declined, the park was divided up and, in the 1930s, it was designated as an allotment when the Manor estate was laid out. The allotments were considered so important to Sheffield that they were opened by the late Queen Mother – then the Duchess of York – in 1936. More recently, the 17-hectare park has been restored with playgrounds, wild spaces and landscaped areas, as well as planting schemes and a climbing wall. Day-to-day, the park is managed by social enterprise Green Estate.


  • Ruskin Park. Created at the end of the 1970s on a slum clearance site in Walkley, Ruskin Park has been brought to life with a playground, sand pit, playing field and multi-use games area. The park, which was featured in “The Full Monty”, also has lots of guests just trying to break in through the fences – look out for the cheeky bear, hare, and owl.


  • Wincobank Hill. First recorded in 1442 as “Wincowe”, the site, which has superb views over Sheffield, has a diverse history including an Iron Age hill fort. Many other archaeological features have been recorded within the woodland.