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Gleadless Valley Woods/’Cat Lane’

December 27, 2010

Sometimes it surprises me how frequently we forget those things which are right on our doorsteps. Having grown up in Meersbrook, there’s a few things you quickly learn, which change with your age. 1) Don’t go in Cat Lane woods – you’ll get attacked, then later 2) Walking back from school through Cat Lane woods is what all the cool kids do, and finally 3) Isn’t this a nice rural surprise for walking the children/relatives/family dog? These nice woods at the end of the road? Shame about all the teenagers…

So frequently forgotten about by anyone other than dog owners and Newfield School students seeking a quiet spot for a few joints or snaffled bottles of White Lightning, the ancient woods of Gleadless Valley are actually a lovely surprise. We went for a walk down there on Christmas Sunday (yes that’s right, it all goes crazy when the 26th falls on a Sunday.) and I remembered how much I used to enjoy those quiet walks home from school with my friends, untroubled by the streams of fellow pupils, and tripping over stones and branches in an effort to shortcut it home. Inevitably, although it was the shortest route, we’d take the time to dawdle and gossip (as teenage girls do), and every so often we’d run into some people we’d been trying to avoid in the first place. Being 16 was so complicated.

I found this fantastic website dedicated to the local heritage woodland in South Yorkshire, which is interesting enough in itself, except that it has a dedicated set of pages for the Gleadless Valley woodland. There’s even a trail map for prospective walkers here, outlining the different areas and histories of the woods.

It’s a rather odd experience to walk to the end of a suburban street, right on the edge of a built up council estate, and to find yourself suddenly in the midst of what feels like a rural wilderness. What is actually the case is that Gleadless Valley council estate was built as a utopian ‘parkland’ site, and the woods were presumably retained as part of that. The lay of the land – the fact that this part of the woods exists in a valley and later on a wooded hilltop (did I not mention there are hills? There are lots of hills) means that the view of the surrounding suburbs and estates are obscured, and the area can feel quite isolated. There are also a number of large meadows in the middle of the woods, which remain a complete shock to me every time I stumble into them – hidden as they are by woods all around.

By the looks of it, these woods aren’t even on Wikipedia’s guide to Sheffield parks and woodland, so perhaps I’m providing a service for once. To get to these woods from the entrance I used, on Meersbrook Road, you can get any of the buses to Heeley Green and walk through, or cut in through Northcote Avenue. Your choice.

Rosie @ LS

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 27, 2010 10:43 pm

    Place like this are lovely – don’t know this one particularly but got similar places around us – true that after dark and sometimes daytime they are the haunts of the druggies and alki-teens but most of the time they are wonderful walkways for families and dog-walkers. Long may they survive.

  2. December 27, 2010 11:44 pm

    You have just busted one of the best hidden places in Sheffield: Good write up mind and you are right just rather good. There are quite a few places like this in Sheffield. Lets not tell every one, I rather hope they have been forgotten. http://underclassrising.net/reports You will find images and words on places we have found over the years enjoy:

  3. December 28, 2010 12:10 am

    I have a feeling that telling people here won’t lead to swamping of the areas, but surely it’s good to let people know – I have a feeling places like this will be developed for all the wrong reasons (i.e. I might be in favour of them extending the Gleadless Valley estate into it if done properly, but more likely is some shoddy business park), so I guess the more people use these facilities the better!

    Besides, it’s a piece of my childhood…even if it did involved bottles of cheap cider…

  4. December 28, 2010 9:52 am

    Hey Rosie – lovely piece about the woods – I miss them. (I included them in a short story I wrote once.) And lovely blog. Thought you might be interested in this one I used to keep about Meersbrook Park – though it was anonymous at the time.

    We’ve formed a Friends of Gillfield Wood here in Totley – Sheffield has 35 ancient woods (older than 1600) and Mel Jones has done a lot of work on them. See his books, also lovely courses for local woodland volunteers on wildlife, archaeology etc from Econet at Hallam Uni.

  5. ambrose permalink
    December 29, 2010 12:03 am

    this book is based on the fuelling a revolution thing. it is totally amazing. still not managed to actually do any of the walks yet but am excitied about all of them. waterstones have it.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-South-Yorkshire-Exploring-Sheffield/dp/190614821X

  6. December 29, 2010 3:43 am

    Good to see we are not the only people out there that like and know about this hidden side of Sheffield. There are some quite wonderful places. That should never (neither do I think they will) be built upon..

    Will have to get myself a copy of said book mind:

    Thanks people and Rosie for opening another world:

    M

  7. January 25, 2011 10:38 am

    This blog is bookmarked! I really love the stuff you have put here.

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