Nearly 10 years ago I was idly browsing the local travel section of the Sheffield library and saw a leaflet called the Sheffield Round Walk. It looked interesting, so I borrowed it and photocopied the route from it. Somehow I never got round to actually doing it, and so the route sat idly in my folder of walking routes. Every so often when flicking through the folder, I’d come across it and think “I really should give it a go.” But I was always put off by the fact that I live so close to the Peak District, and it always seemed like a poor man’s alternative to walk around the outskirts of the city when I could be out properly in the hills.
Recently, however, a friend who I go walking with, and who lives in Manchester, suggested that one time we should go out somewhere within walking distance of my house, so we didn’t have to drive or get the train. I agreed, but then forgot about it again until I arranged a weekend for 2 other friends: one from Manchester and one from Southampton. Ironically, Ann, who had suggested the walk in the first place, couldn’t make it. On the Saturday we went mountain biking around Derwent, and I suggested we try the Sheffield Round Walk on the Sunday, since they would both be staying with me that night. We were all pretty shattered after the mountain biking (or at least I was, since it was the first time I’d been out on my bike for more than a year), and a late night fuelled with alcohol and board games probably didn’t help any of us the following day. I knew the Round Walk was 14 miles, and that the starting point was in Endcliffe Park, not too far from my house. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that walking to the start, and back after we’d finished, would add another 4+ miles on (especially as I decided to take them the more scenic route to the start!)
I was a little apprehensive that we wouldn’t enjoy the scenery so much, being used to fabulous days out in the hills, and was a little worried it wouldn’t be very strenuous, but while it wasn’t particularly hilly, there were a few challenges nevertheless, and the distance certainly made up for the relative flatness!
The walk starts in Hunters Bar, progresses through Endcliffe Park and along the Porter valley to Ringinglow. and then descends through the Limb valley and Ecclesall Woods to Abbeydale Road, before climbing through Ladies Spring Wood to Graves Park. There were plenty of beautiful vistas, however, since most of the walk is through parks and forest, and at one point takes you right out into the Peaks itself (around Ringinglow).
The walk then passes through the Gleadless valley, Meersbrook Park and Chelsea Park before returning to the start point at Hunters Bar. The first and second sections are certainly the most beautiful, while the last two sections are rather less pretty, and pass through some pretty grimy bits of Sheffield, but the view from Meersbrook Park makes it totally worthwhile.
After that, the final stretch is rather boring and we were all wishing it to end as we trudged up and down the hills through various residential areas. By this point, I knew what was coming as we had the final steep section to ascend back from Hunters Bar to Crookes. Luckily my two companions were unaware of exactly what it entailed, or I might have had a mutiny.
We typically walk fairly fast, especially on the flat, and we barely stopped except for map checking, and a quick 10 minute sitdown opposite Beauchief Golf Course to eat our sandwiches. The actual walk took us about 5 1/2 hours, though if we hadn’t been tired from the previous day, and had to check the map so many times, I reckon we’d have done it in 5. While it is largely signposted (look for the acorns!), sometimes you do have to check the map or hunt around for the signs (and the official map and directions are pretty crummy – I’d recommend an OS map too or a GPS to be sure).
Definitely one to do again, though worthwhile to wait for a clear day just for the views when you do get out of the woods. Spring and autumn are supposed to be best, because of the flowers, but I’m thinking on a crisp winter’s day when the snow is lying and the skies are clear, it could be stunning.