Places to see birds


Adult male siskin on feeder
Siskin Photo: RSPB

The National Trust's Longshaw Estate, about seven miles south-west of the centre of Sheffield, is a good place if you fancy a fairly gentle spot of birdwatching. Indeed, you stand a good chance of seeing some nice birds without even straying from the terrace of the Visitor Centre cafe!

Longshaw Lodge was once the centre of the Duke of Rutland's shooting estate. It was built in about 1827 as a retreat for his shooting guests, who included King George V and the Duke of Wellington. In 1928, with the estate threatened with development, a public appeal was made and this enabled the Council for the Protection of Rural England to buy the area which they then gifted to the National Trust.

Longshaw's Visitor Centre with its tea room and shop is next to the old shooting lodge. Toilets - including an accessible toilet - are located behind the tea-room.

From the Visitor Centre, an extensive network of footpaths runs across the property. The character of these varies, with the easiest access around the Visitor Centre. The orange waymarked route (see sign in Woodcroft car park) is suitable for buggies.

There is a particularly good 1.75 mile circular route from the Visitor Centre passing through a range of habitats which we followed on our Group's most recent walk there in October 2014.

From the Visitor Centre, turn right and follow the entrance drive to the road. Cross this to head over the stile opposite into woodland where, on our visit, we saw treecreeper, goldcrest, siskin and lesser redpoll feeding alongside great, blue and coal Tits. Approaching the far end of the woodland, drop down to cross Burbage Brook and turn left downstream. Dippers can sometimes be seen here. Also, keep an eye out for ravens which may fly overhead.

Turn left across the next bridge and head up to cross the road and enter more woodland. Here we saw both chaffinch and brambling feeding on beech mast. After a while, you will reach a large pond. This is often home to mandarin ducks of which there were 34 present at the time of our visit as well as a curlew in the meadow above. From here, continue along the main path through more woodland and across an open area before picking up the path that takes you back to the Visitor Centre.

For those after an even easier but still rewarding spot of birdwatching, the bird feeders outside the Visitor Centre cafe reliably attract siskin as well as nuthatch, brambling, greenfinch, goldfinch and both lesser and mealy redpolls.

The closest car park to the Visitor Centre is at Woodcroft. This can be reached by taking the A625 out of Sheffield and continuing on the A6187. At Fox House Inn, turn left and the car park is on the right, a short distance further along. Alternative parking for the wider estate can be found at Haywood and the 'Wooden Pole'. As with Woodcroft, this is pay and display - though free for National Trust members.

For those wishing to use public transport, the 65/65A and 271/272 buses from Sheffield stop at the Fox House. Alternatively, Grindleford railway station on the Sheffield to Manchester line is a 1.5 mile walk away via Padley Gorge.

Other nearby sites also covered in this section are Padley Gorge, the Eastern Moors and the Upper Burbage Valley.