As you may know, we have been exploring starting a ‘socially distanced’ walking group here at St Matthew’s, focused on routes around and near to our parish. We have opted to stay local as travel at this unusual time can be difficult for non-drivers or those without transport, but hopefully as restrictions ease, we can look forward to planning walks further afield. Over the past few weeks, Jean Russell and I have been trialling some shorter routes within striking distance of the parish that we hope will be manageable and enjoyable for many. Not only will our new group offer a new opportunity for us to meet safely, but it is particularly timely given the Government’s latest advice on taking more exercise, as well as cutting calories, to improve our health and tackle obesity: a significant factor affecting recovery in COVID-19 patients. I know that after lockdown my uniform feels tighter!!
Our first walk is planned for Friday August 21st at 2pm, and we hope to run one every two to three weeks. The walks take around 2 to 3 hours depending on route, pace, and coffee stops on the way. Please let us know if you are interested by contacting Lizzie, Marjorie or Jean by phone or email:
Lizzie – 07387 023808 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Marjorie – 07525 669714 / email@example.com
Jean – 07834 704412 / firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like a taste of what the group has to offer, Jean has written an amazing description of our first venture around the city, which was one of our longer walks:
“It was intended that we would start from the church so we nipped up Gell Street and walked down Portobello by St George’s church down to Mappin Street, then across to Division Street stopping at the Copper Pot for a coffee. Alright, we had not earned it yet so none of their Scoffingtons for us, but if we start from the church it will be just as we are returning.
Then along to Carver Street, picked up the parish boundary and went around back of the City Hall as this kept us away from the crowds across West Street, then walked through old Sheffield at the back of the Cathedral. You could almost believe you were in the back streets of Durham with its steep incline and Georgian buildings. We crossed down to the Grey to Green which is an urban drainage project but I think the planting was designed by Nigel Dunnet from University of Sheffield. A Goldfinch perched in a branch just above Marjorie’s head.
We then picked up the Upper Don Trail near Lady Bridge and followed the Upper Don Trail towards Kelham Island. We saw both swifts with their scimitar-shaped wings and house martins (definitely not swallows as they did not have the long tail, but I could not tell if they were brown or black so maybe sand martins). Then wandered through the back of Kelham Island coming out onto Alma Street by the Fat Cat and Kelham Island Brewery, past a small memorial garden with community notices.
At the time we were doing this most of the shops were shut so we were not able to get a drink there. Things may well have changed since then. We did a detour along Little Kelham Street to look at the new houses that are going up but had to return to Alma Street as there at present is not through walkway. A promising place for coffee was sighted but again was not open.
There is plenty of street art along Green Lane for you to admire. including tiles painted with various items associated with Kelham Island.
At this point there are two options. You can go along Green Lane to Cornish Street and then follow that through some business areas or you can do what we did and take the earlier left turn up Ball Street and cross over the Don again picking up the Upper Don Trail again. This is a riverside walk behind a modern set of flats which gives you views of the old factories along Cornish Street. This ends at Neepsend Land where you can cross the River Don and take Waterloo Walk to the other end of Cornish Street.
Whichever route is taken do you want to turn down Dixon Lane. This is very much a post-industrial landscape but you will soon come to the Penistone Road just by a crossing. We crossed and headed up St Philip’s Street towards the Ponderosa. The Ponderosa is an open space created in the 1960s as part of urban clearance. It is the least used of the three open spaces around here and in the lower part was easy to walk well away from people and off the grass. The bottom part where we entered was once back to back houses and is now largely grassed open space with a child’s playground. This was damaged last year at Fire in the Park Festival and the lower part is still recovering with the grass being allowed to grow as it wants. We kept to the left-hand side and eventually picked up the new paths that have been laid in the upper part. This was in the 19th century the site of four small dams that provided drinking water for Sheffield. The dams were filled in in Victorian times and it became Crookesmoor Valley recreational site, known as the Tip and barrage balloons were flown from here during the second world war. By keeping to the left we made the most of the walk through the Ponderosa a gentle climb but to get to Crookesmoor Road we faced three flights of stairs. This top end is wooded and shaded.
From here, we cut through Weston Park. We could easily have explored further but we were getting tired so we went the quick route back of the duck pond and then down the path between Regents Court and the University Library to come out by the Arts Tower. Then took the crossing across Western Bank, Hounsfield Road and Leavygreave Road to cross by the University Tram Stop crossing over just by Jessops West and taking Gell Street back to my home.”