As an outdoorsy person who travelled a lot for work (pre-lockdown), I have now lived in Sheffield for over 2 years. During lockdown I’ve discovered just how many footpaths and rights of way are available within the city boundary!
I've fallen in love with the beautiful woodlands and steep sided hills that form part of the unique skyline. I've loved running in a woods near Loxley - away from the crowds, and finding routes that follow patches of wild bluebells is just magical.
There are plenty of amazing roads to cycle around in North West Sheffield that take you near Derwent Edge and as a beginner to road cycling it's made me appreciate the thighs of steel that you need to get up the hills!
Having worked as a Public Rights of Way Officer for a number of years it used to be my job to walk every route in every parish in my patch, to survey routes and get out and about to deal with protection and maintenance issues on PRoWs. I have started a new home-based job during lockdown, still working in access but focusing on protecting, extending and promoting access and rights of way focusing on equestrian use.
This all means that whilst the restrictions are in place, I’m only able to explore the PRoWs from my home village, it has been a real eye opener as to what has been sitting on my doorstep all along.
As lockdown began, I found myself walking the same three routes I usually use for our daily dog walks. I soon thought about the many miles of PRoWs I was missing out on and got onto the OS Maps app to do some research.
I started using routes that had been plotted by others and I discovered a wealth of routes from my front door, I then decided to take on the challenge of exploring all the routes within a 6km radius of my house and boy did we find some wonderful routes.
From ancient drove roads to expanses of arable cross field routes, I have not been disappointed by a single day of exploration. I'm extremely lucky to live in a village surrounded by countryside all connected by PRoW. I have spotted all sorts of wildlife from barn owls to skylarks and I have been treated to the flowering fritillaries of a wildflower meadow. Although I’m still looking forward to getting back to my childhood home of the Lake District to climb some hills when this is all over, I have definitely gained a new appreciation for the beauty that has been waiting within 6km of my own home.
I always have my local OS Map on hand, and I am a big fan of exploring my neighbourhood from my own front door. Even with that, I have been able to find new-to-me footpaths over the last month of being forced to only walk close to home. I've not lived here long so my excuse is that I'm still very new to the area and the opportunity to get to know it better can only be a good thing.
I've found bridges and stiles that lead to the countryside, public rights of way through farmland and routes up hills with views for miles around. The most impressive I feel, are the wonderful ancient woodland covered in bluebells. The good weather has been a real blessing, but I will certainly be heading back to that woodland to experience it in the rain. There is something so weirdly peaceful about dense trees when it's wet.