Full of misty mornings and crisp days, glowing colours and crunchy leaves; autumn is truly a treat for the senses. Wildlife gets busy now too – the stags are putting on a show at Blacka Moor, birds and hedgehogs bustle in the hedgerows preparing for winter, and our seasonal visitors are beginning to arrive – especially around our wetlands. We know nature helped so many of us through lockdown in spring and summer, now is the perfect time to embrace and discover the autumnal delights it has to offer!
We have 15 nature reserves just waiting for you to explore. Here are four of our favourites – let us know which one is yours:
If you’re looking for an autumn adventure, Greno Woods nature reserve is perfect. It’s an ancient woodland rich in wildlife and full of historic interest which offers excellent opportunities for wildlife watching, exploration and recreation. One of our largest reserves, it’s both a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy nature and explore the past, as well as an exciting outdoor adventure playground!
Adrenaline seekers can try our three downhill mountain bike trails, including the famous Steel City run. The woods are covered by a network of footpaths and bridleways, and we have loads of fun things for family visits including a den building area, toddler trail, geocaching and orienteering. Download the free Wild Sheffield app to get guided walks and try the Greno Explorer challenge!
If you’re looking for a little bit of wilderness, try Wyming Brook nature reserve. Once set aside for the exclusive use of the nobility when it was part of the hunting and hawking grounds of Rivelin Chase, Wyming Brook’s babbling streams, mossy crags and sweet smelling pines are protected today as a valuable home to wildlife. Take an easy strolls by the streams or challenge yourself with the higher, rockier routes to be rewarded with dramatic views of the Rivelin reservoirs and the city beyond.
Wyming Brook has received a prestigious Green Flag Award, an international award scheme which recognises this nature reserve as one of the very best green spaces in the UK. There is plenty of wildlife to see here all year round. Keep an eye out for the bobbing head of brown and white dipper as it forages for aquatic insects and shrimp along the fast flowing streams. In the autumn months it’s a great place to discover some weird and wonderful fungi.
For seasonal wetland visitors, wander around Woodhouse Washlands nature reserve. This mosaic of wet and dry grasslands, swamp, wet ditches, ponds and scrub is typical of the landscape which once fringed the River Rother as it passed through its floodplain.
Today, the river supports a good fish population as well as a range of invertebrates and plants, and it’s a great place to see birds all year round, with around 60 species recorded here. Watch out for the occasional flash of turquoise as a kingfisher flies past. As the weather turns cooler, you’ll see goosander, lapwing and gulls. 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 when wet).
There’s never a bad time to visit the magnificent Blacka Moor, a sprawling nature reserve right on the edge of our outdoor city – although you will have to share the trails with local wildlife! Majestic red deer roam freely across the moor, and in autumn, the stags display their magnificent antlers as they vie to attract a harem. The sweeping landscape makes it a wonderful place for a walk, and a brilliant location for photographers; from action shots to endless opportunities to capture life in miniature with a macro lens. For nature lovers it’s a haven for birds, with a diverse migrant bird population which includes willow warblers, black caps, cuckoos, wheatears, stonechats and whinchats. It also supports a regionally important grassland fungi community – over 100 species have been found here.
Plan your next day out on one of our reserves at wildsheffield.com/nature-reserves