Woodhouse Washlands

Sitting on the boundary between Sheffield and Rotherham, on Sheffield’s eastern edge, Woodhouse Washlands comprises 53 hectares of grassland, scrub and floodplain grazing marsh. The Washlands’ mosaic of wet and dry grasslands, swamp, wet ditches, ponds and scrub are typical of the landscape which once fringed the River Rother as it passed through its floodplain. During the summer swallows, swifts and martins can seen feeding over the area, giving spectacular displays.

Volunteer Work Days

Are you interested in our conservation work and would like to help out? Pop along to our monthly volunteer work days on the Third Friday of the month 10am - 3pm. Please email nature.reserves@wildsheffield.com to be added on to the monthly email which will have the details of the tasks and meeting points.



Lying in the floodplain of the River Rother, the nature reserve straddles the boundary between Sheffield and Rotherham.

This suburban site, whilst surrounded by roads, housing and industry, has a rich and varied history. Until the 1950s the river meandered through extensive marshland and flooded on such a regular basis that a rowing boat was kept at the Methodist chapel to transport people between the housing and factories. The disruption resulted in a flood alleviation scheme being put into operation and by 1960 the river had been straightened, flood banks built and ditches dug to control the water. Since then the river has only flooded the washlands three times; lastly during the major floods in June 2007.

The scheme transformed the widespread marshland into a rich mosaic of grassland, marsh, ponds, ditches and temporary pools with willows and remnant hawthorn hedges dotted across the site creating additional habitat features. The River Rother was once one of the most polluted rivers in Europe, a legacy of the industrial past. Today, the river supports a good fish population as well as a range of invertebrates and plants. Watch out for the occasional flash of turquoise as a kingfisher flies past. In winter, see ducks including goosander and gulls.

The nature reserve is managed by a mixture of cattle grazing and periodic maintenance of the ditches, ponds and hedges. The land is divided by the river and a railway viaduct which helps create the distinct characteristics of the different compartments. Metal sculptures have been installed along the route, giving information on the industrial history as well as the plants and animals that can be seen.

The Trans-Pennine Trail, running along an edge of the site, allows easy access for cyclists and wheelchair users in good weather (it can get very muddy in wet weather).

If you need to get in touch with us about any of our reserves, please email nature.reserves@wildsheffield.com or call us on 0114 263 433.