I am a freelance writer living based in Sheffield. Check out my blog of the Berlin music scene at fourquartersofberlinmusic.blogspot.co.uk.
Published October 6th 2012
If you go down to the woods today
This magnificent area of preserved woodland, situated in the Abbeydale area of Sheffield, remains an extremely popular visitor destination, despite modern distractions like Facebook and X-Box attempting to keep us all from the great outdoors.
Ecclesall Woods is the largest semi-natural woodland in South Yorkshire and attracts 300,000 visitors every year. It offers a perfect city getaway whatever the season; whether the Summer sun is peaking through the treetops or the winding pathways are blanketed with snow.
Several public footpaths guide you through this dense woodland filled with plant and wildlife. Designated as a local nature reserve, the area is home to several important UK species and is also the location of historic monuments, such as three rocks engraved with 'cup and ring' markings that are believed to date from the late Neolithic or Bronze Age.
The new JG Graves Woodland Discovery Centre can also be found here. The visitor centre aims to educate people about the importance of preserving the woodland and promoting the local environment. The building itself was built to be as eco-friendly as possible. The spectacular structure is made almost entirely from locally-sourced timber and includes a wood burner and toilet cubicles doors made from recycled plastic.
The centre has a calendar packed with a vast range of events and activities which encourages people to step outside and explore the ancient woodland. There is everything from craft courses and art exhibitions to woodland walks. Volunteer projects, such as The Sheffield Woodlands Environment Enhancement Project (SWEEP) are also based here so feel free to drop in and do your bit to help preserve the local habitat.
Finally, for those who really wish to get back to nature, you can hire out the centre's stunning Sycamore Suite, which overlooks the beautiful woodland scenery, for parties, birthdays and even weddings.
The discovery centre is open Monday to Saturday from 10am till 3pm. It is free to visit however check website for a list of events and prices.