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Iron age to steel age: a walk through industrial history

Photo by Will Roberts.

Starting at out-of-town shopping monolith Meadowhall, this walk leads into what once was the heart of industrial Sheffield. It follows paths that, once loud with the pounding of that heart, since the 1980s have become quiet and, in many cases, altogether neglected.

As the Supertram swishes you away to the start of the walk at Meadowhall, look out of the window and reflect on this once great industrial city. When its industrial heart died, away went a part of its soul and character. Now we see clear blue skies, which were once blackened by hundreds of chimneys.

From Meadowhall, cross the bridges over the railway lines and turn onto Tyler Street. Cross, and go up onto Evesham Close, then left onto Roman Ridge. As you climb this ancient earthwork, imagine Queen Cartimandua of the Celtic Brigantes tribe patrolling this boundary of her territory and, looking out towards the Roman fort at Templeborough, saying “Ey up lads, look out fer Romans, we don’t want ‘em coming up ‘ere”.

On reaching the brow of Jenkin Road, cross and follow the part-cobbled path onto the Wincobank Hill. This Iron Age fort gives the finest views over all of Sheffield and the hills beyond. No wonder it was chosen by the ancients as a strategic and special place. Look down onto the Don Valley – only fifty years ago it was covered in vast factories and hundreds of smoking chimneys. This two thousand-year-old fortress has withstood the ravages of industrialisation and, more lately, vandalism and is still clothed in its ancient woodland and heather.

Descend through the new plantation onto Wincobank Lane. Look for two monuments on your right surviving amongst the dereliction. On approaching Upwell Street turn right and cross at the pelican crossing. Walk along Upwell Lane, Grimesthorpe’s village pump and well to the left. Go down the gennel back onto Upwell Street and down towards the green space. Cross Bagley Dike by a small bridge. Wildlife survives amongst the rubbish in this small enclave.

Continue up back onto Upwell Lane and Grimesthorpe Road. A slight detour along Earl Marshal Road and up the path on the left leads to a viewpoint. This top path will eventually lead through the shrubbery back onto Grimesthorpe Road. The ruins of walled gardens can be seen on the left while on the right are the “crozzle” topped walls. The crozzle are the linings of old cementation furnaces once common in Sheffield’s early steel industry.

Leave Grimesthorpe Road by way of Osgathorpe Road continuing towards Barnsley Road. In this area is a tremendous mix of housing: formerly Victorian mansions, industrial terraces, contemporary semi-detached. Cross Barnsley Road and go down to Crabtree pond, a small green haven in an urban setting, with a fascinating cottage at the bottom of the valley on Crabtree Road. On the left is a gennel to Norwood Road.

Cross the road and enter Roe Wood. The path gently meanders its way up to Firshill Crescent. Go through a short gennel to Orphanage Road, leading to Roe Lane and Pitsmoor Road. Look out for the former toll house between here and Burngreave Road. Go right along Pitsmoor Road, cross and turn right along Rutland Road. Go down Wood Fold on the left, to the blocked off Woodside Lane and onto a large green open space below Woodside and Pye Bank. Head towards the railway line at the bottom and find the footpath back onto Woodside Lane. Follow the road under the bridge onto Harvest Lane then Neepsend Lane.

Reach Rutland Road again and cross the River Don. Straight after the bridge take Waterloo Walk left, following the Don and emerging onto Cornish Street. Again the area has seen much recent change with derelict historical buildings being rejuvenated alongside the recently exposed origins of the city’s industrial past. Every street, every nook and cranny deserves exploring here in Kelham Island. Cross the inner relief road to Doncaster Street, where you’ll find the best example of a surviving cementation furnace in Sheffield. Here the steel was made that gave the city its worldwide reputation.

Written by Terry Howard

17.08.2015

Information

Location: Start at Meadowhall Interchange and end in the Shalesmoor/Kelham Island area, close to the city centre.
Distance: Approx. 3 miles.
Public transport: Supertram yellow route to Meadowhall, train from Sheffield to Meadowhall, or the X78 bus.
Route map: Download as PDF.
Where to eat & drink: There's all the usual High Street food chains in Meadowhall at the start point, or wait until the end for the Fat Cat's pub grub, The Grind's salads, or Craft and Dough's pizza – all in Kelham Island.

Walk originally printed in a guide published by Sheffield City Council and The Ramblers' Association.

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