Make the most of your summer staycation!

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make the most of holidays at home. With 16 nature reserves to visit around Sheffield and Rotherham you can have a great day out for free! Here’s a roundup of four of our favourites to visit this summer:

Summer is a great time to visit the magnificent Blacka Moor, a sprawling nature reserve right on the edge of our outdoor city.

It’s the largest and most spectacular of our reserves. It contains 181 hectares of breath taking scenery – that’s the same size as 181 rugby fields! – and forms part of a much larger internationally important wild landscape – the Eastern Peak District Moors – which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for it’s rare heathland habitat and associated wildlife.

It’s a favourite spot for exercise enthusiasts, from mountain bikers to runners – although you will have to share the trails with local wildlife, like the majestic red deer which roam freely across the moor here. 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.

We look after the habitats which support these species by managing the gradual transition from woodland to open moor. We have reintroduced traditional cattle grazing to develop the heathland areas and we use good old fashioned elbow grease to control bracken and scrub – thanks to our army of volunteers! If you’d like to join them visit wildsheffield.com/volunteer

 

If you’re looking for somewhere that really does have something for everyone, then Greno Woods nature reserve is the place to visit.

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!

The woods contains some of the county’s most vulnerable habitats, including mature oak woodland and heathland. There has been woodland here since before 1600, and many of the wildflowers along the Trans-Pennine trail through here are particularly associated with ancient sites. Small wonder then, that so many wild animals and plants are found here.

Summer highlights include northern hairy wood ant nests, a marvel of insect construction. The material in the thatched ‘roof’ of a nest acts like an umbrella when it rains and like a solar panel in good weather, intercepting the sun’s rays and heating the nest above the temperature of the surrounding woodland. Comma, peacock, red admiral and brimstone butterflies make a colourful show, while birdsong will lead you to some of the 50 species found here including willow warblers and blackcaps. A visit at dawn or dusk may reward you with a glimpse of roe deer feeding in a woodland glade or brown hares in the fields at the woodland edge.

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, or join in on one of our monthly volunteer work days wildsheffield.com/volunteer

 

Carbrook Ravine is a colourful little nature reserve in the south-east of Sheffield –  easy to get to and the perfect place to enjoy with your four-legged friend.

Nestled in a predominantly man-made landscape, Carbrook Ravine provides a wonderful contrast to the surrounding urban area. The narrow valley used to form part of an extensive deer park for the gentry of Sheffield. Although there are no deer now, there is an abundance of wildlife. This small reserve contains a wide variety of habitats including woodland, wetland and wildflower meadows, making it an important resource for wildlife.

Carbrook Ravine is home to a wide range of threatened species like skylark, song thrush and bluebell. The locally rare golden male fern also grows in this nationally important wet woodland area, while ash, maple, aspen, sycamore and hazel can be found in the species-rich north west of the site. Perfect for walking your dog, the vast grassed areas on this site are home to the mice, voles and shrews which provide food for the local owl and sparrowhawk populations. It is a great place to relax, explore and enjoy!

Tell us what wildlife you see on your visit to Carbrook Ravine or any of our reserves by visiting wildsheffield.com/sightings to help us build a picture of the state of nature where you live.

 

For peace and quiet combined with stunning views and an abundance of bird life, Fox Hagg nature reserve is hard to beat.

From this patch of heathland and woodland, perched high on a hillside you can see for miles over the Rivelin dams and the woods of Wyming Brook further up the valley. Fox Hagg’s own varied and dramatic scenery is as stunning as the view, with its patchwork of bilberry, bracken, heather, birch, scrub and woodland. This huge range of habitats attracts a wide variety of birds in summer including linnets, meadow pipits, bullfinch, willow tit, song thrush, goldfinch, greenfinch plus a number of warblers which flit between the scattered birch and the woodland edge.

It was once managed as a holly hagg, where the soft spikeless upper leaves of holly were cut for winter fodder for sheep and cattle. Remnants of holly can still be seen in the gully around the stream called Allen Sike, and along the north edge of the nature reserve. Now Fox Hagg is managed to maximise wildlife. Small areas of scrub are cut on a five year cycle, and bracken is controlled to allow heather to grow.

An extensive network of bridleways and footpaths provide several circular routes around the reserve. Some sections are particularly steep so make sure you have sturdy footwear!

If you’d like to know more about the management of Fox Hagg, or want to have a say then come to one of our Reserve Advisory Group meetings; they’re open to all members of the local community and users of the reserve. See wildsheffield.com/whats-on for details of the next one.