They say that most people nowadays have never met their neighbours, and in the same vein, I’m guilty of not really exploring the incredible scenery I have here on my doorstep in Sheffield. Of course, out in the Peak District there’s the old-world country towns and villages, sweeping scenery and endless hiking and climbing opportunities, but there’s also wild countryside just a few minutes down the road.
When people think of travelling they think of round the world trips, backpacking across continents, climbing rugged mountains and swimming in azure oceans. But travel can happen anywhere. Adventure is simply the act of discovering somewhere new for yourself and experiencing something that’s different from your everyday life. So even if you or I can’t fly over oceans or summit imposing outcrops right now, what’s to stop us from having a micro-adventure somewhere on our doorstep? In general, there aren’t that many good reasons not to.
Rivelin Valley is somewhere that’s been on my list of places to visit for years, but perhaps because of its close proximity to my home, I’ve never actually ventured down to the nature trail to explore. This week, after being forced to take some time off work that I was owed in lieu, I ventured out into the wintery sun to discover what I’d been missing.
The answer? Quite a lot!
Art and Wildlife
The Rivelin Valley Trail isn’t simply a stroll through the trees, and that’s because the protected area is actually a collaboration between the Rivelin Valley Conservation Group, and Ruskin in Sheffield. Walking along rivers and streams and through centuries-old woodland, whichever way you stroll you’ll eventually find the remains of watermills and dams, artworks like the famous steel chair by artist Jason Thomson, and poetry that’s been written and performed across the valley.
The derelict and working mills you’ll discover were all once part of the famous Sheffield steel industry, but now the woodland has reclaimed most of these bastions of metal, and what remains is a haven for wildlife that’s surrounded by trees and the bedrock of the city’s early history.
Along the trail there are stepping stones across rivers, man-made bridges and stairways snaking up into the hills, and the river and its brooks bubbling along at your side. There are robins and wrens to be spotted, as well as majestic visitors including the Grey Heron and Kingfisher than can sometimes be seen hunting down by the water’s edge.
You can walk the trail from either direction or simply pick just one small part of it, but if you’re planning on making a day of it as I did, then it’s useful to follow a map.
Spending my unexpected day off exploring one of Sheffield’s most famous nature trails was, for me, a reminder that there are small adventures to be had everyday. Work might be mundane and winter is bound to leave us all feeling slightly stagnant as the early nightfall refuses to get any lighter, but that doesn’t mean we need a trip to the Bahamas – although it would be nice. There are new places to be discovered everywhere and that includes right outside your front door.
I’ll certainly be making more time to explore the area around my adopted city from now on, and hopefully you’ll be able to find the time to do it in yours, too.
Have you been on a micro-adventure in your area? Tell me about it in the comments!