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Make the most of your summer staycation!

[lead]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:[/lead]

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.