Sheffield FridayNightRide

we have nothing to lose but our chains

2010/05/21 Shirebrook Nature Reserve

Ride report for Sheffield FNr
Shirebrook Nature Reserve
Friday May 21 2010

25 nightriders gathered outside the Old Queen’s Head Friday before last with at least seven people new to nightriding. As one person said – amazing demographic – and what that means was all sorts of us turned up on all sorts of bikes. Paul Leo had recovered sufficiently, months after slicing his ankle with an angle grinder, to join us. Respect! The forecourt outside the pub was throbbing with a large rowdy crowd up for the professional boxing at Pond’s Forge – must check the calendar before I arrange a meeting place. All us nightriders missed a European Championship Light Middleweight fight which the Sheffield ‘boy’ Ryan Rhodes won. Keep up will you? Never mind, riding our bikes was surely quieter, a lot healthier and a probably more fun.

We set off in a warm, calm but hazy evening, and soon started the climb up over Park Hill roundabout and continued past Park Hill flats to turn left on Shrewsbury Rd and cycled along the flat to cross Duke St and continued the climb up Manor Oaks Rd to turn sharp right into Manor Oaks field. A punchy little climb to clear out our lungs and I only got my second wind by the time we stopped at the location of the keep fit sequence in The Full Monty.(NB the first site ever visited on a Sheffield FNR – see website) The fields are a lot more overgrown now and the trees and shrubs have also burgeoned to obscure the view of the city centre. We were talked at incoherently by a drunk or madman over his garden fence and then two boys and a girl arrived and wanted, nay, demanded rides on our bikes. So a brief chat, go on Mister let us, about how this site, we’ll bring them back, honest!, had been housing, why can’t we have a go?, and was now ‘reclaimed’ land, don’t be tight, and then we carried on the path across the field towards Skye Edge.

Friendly nods to the dog walkers preceded our breasting of the ridge, which was a Victorian picnic spot, and our taking of the views of Sheffield to the west and north and east that one gets from there. Many had never seen Sheffield from these angles and some found it an odd experience. We took in an aerial view of Norfolk Park and its houses around, and then panned up up to Arbourthorne and over to Norton Water tower and across to Meersbrook Park, up the Sheaf Valley and traversing North across to Crookes and Walkley and up the upper Don Valley and then swinging right down the Don to Wincobank and beyond. Then Linda took a fabulous group photo as many of us contemplated these views. Finally with a backward glance at the pigeon lofts just below us we cycled off along the edge over the site of the pulled-down flats (soon to be redeveloped?) and through the crowd of teenagers out chatting, flirting, showing off and just being young with nothing to spend, onto Manor Lane

Turning left we went passed the ruins of Manor Lodge or Manor Castle and took the path round the side to the high, waste ground which is the site of a nineteenth century coal pit (not deep shaft) – all gone now. Again caught the views from there and to the east and south which were all part of the ancient deer park. Just below us in the lee of the hill is the old Manor Oaks farm buildings and all the developed land around used to be farmland, the Wybourn estate built in the 20s and 30s and Manor Park estate (30s and 50s) covered it up. So we pedalled back to the main road and then with Manor Fields to our left we spun down Manor Lane and took the TPT to the right, opposite Maltravers Rd, round the back of Manor Park to the side of the Parkway. Crossing Prince of Wales Rd we continued on the TPT to cross Mosborough Parkway and turned right to go through Richmond, across Richmond Rd, carried on down the TPT, passing Smelter Wood and emerging on Sheffield Rd to the SE of Woodhouse. A fun run with many people surprised at all the greenery and generally pleasant views once one is off the main roads. Sheffield is such a surprise!

Cautiously over Sheffield Rd to pick up Stone Lane opposite and then head off through this lane at the top of Shirebrook Nature Reserve. We passed the Visitors’ Centre and then some bloke’s dog joined us for a run and we had to stop to give him a chance to retrieve his pet. , At the bottom of the lane we passed the carved stone commemorating East Birley Colliery (1888-1943) before we started to climb over the now capped and landscaped Beighton Landfill site. Fascinating as it is dotted with manholes which must be something to do with the methane extraction and what a sight we must have been – over 20 cyclists in single file climbing in the balmy evening across this almost lunar landscape up to the top of the site. We stopped to gaze back over the Shirebrook Valley and then finally climbed to where the methane is compressed and burned to generate 1MW of eco-energy. Brilliant!

We navigated our way out onto Beighton Rd and followed that into Woodhouse where we stopped again at the Royal. There were a surfeit of chip shops in Woodhouse and many took the chance to get some chips, to go with the drinks, and share them around – pretty good some of them were too. Another group photo (See look in the grid box for day 51 and you’ll find it (thanks Linda)). Eventually we got back on the bikes and headed off up Stradbroke Rd, to Richmond Rd (a quick puncture repair break) and then down Hunter Lane to Hollybank Rd across Mansfield Rd into Hollins End and finally up to Gleadless Townend and a final assault to the crest of the hill on Ridgeway Rd opposite Leighton Rd and then left into the top of Leighton Rd. We gathered there, got our breath back and then started the exhilirating descent down Leighton Rd (too dark to take the paths) through the ancient woodlands in the Gleadless Valley until we emerged in the Gleadless Estate on Gleadless Rd. Another gathering the other side of Blackstock rd and then the final descent to the Sheaf View for a pint or two.

Really fine – I felt good in the morning – something for the weekend, sir? Try a Sheffield FridayNightRide

Sheffield FridayNightRide
Friday May 21 2010
Shirebrook Nature Reserve
Start: 6.30 pm Old Queen’s Head, Pond Hill

Why? Ian said it was Environment Week/Month so let’s do something to celebrate the city environment. Pond Hill/Pond St is roughly where fish ponds associated with the castle were and the site where Porter Brook and the Sheaf would have joined. Going round Manor Oaks Rd we go past where thinned-out housing has led to the re-establishment of parkland and rough meadows and the Manor Oaks Farm is the site of the farm that used to farm the land around here, which was buried under the Wybourn and Manor Park from the 20s to the 50s, it overlooks Manor Fields, again parkland re-established with the thinning-out of housing.

The TPT is an important route out of town and connects Sheffield to the east the way we are going. We pass Smelter Wood which must be where there was smelting of iron fired by charcoal (used before coal, and a major contributor to the clearance of woods before large scale production of coal) and then get to the Shirebrook Valley which has been converted into a Nature Reserve (–about/parks-woodlands–countryside/trees–woodlands/south-east-sheffield-woodlands-project/shire-brook-local-nature) again an interesting case of how land is being reclaimed within city boundaries and there we can visit the site of the East Birley Colliery (1888-1943) and the methane collecting station on the landscaped landfill site and then back to Gleadless to go down through the valley and trails (part of the Parks and Countryside’s remit) and a remnant of the farm and woodland that was Gleadless Valley up to the 70s. The estate is beautifully landscaped with the buildings themselves being like sculptures set in an open air sculpture park. Enjoy.

(NB Contrary to what people may think I do not have an aversion to the ‘West Side’. June and July we will be in Walkley, Totley, Dore, Lodge Moor, Ranmoor, Fulwood at some time or other!)

Route: Pond Hill, Park Hill Flats, Manor Oaks Rd, Manor Oaks Farm overlooking Manor Fields, TPT through Manor Park, ‘alongside’ Parkway and Mosborough Parkway all the way out to Woodhouse and then into Shirebrook Nature Reserve on Stone Lane/TPT, may even get to Rother Valley, we’ll see, back to Woodhouse on Beighton Rd to stop at The Royal for refreshment (great success last time) and then the same route as last time to the top of Gleadless Valley where we have many choices to go back on trails, through woods or not, or along the road, we can make choices at the time depending on the weather before and at the time and then we will end up at, wait for it to …. The Sheaf View

The map is indicative for the last part but we will be going back through Gleadless. Map on URL below
Heads up! About 14 miles (longer if we do go out to Rother Valley through Beighton) with a steady climb at the end into Gleadless Town End (or maybe Herdings)
The route is on trails (not rough off-road) as well as metalled roads and paths, its also on TPT through Manor Park so tough tyres are a good idea.

Bring lights, lock, spare inner tube(?)

Be there or be square.

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