Places to see birds

Rivelin Valley

Female great tit
Great tit Photo: RSPB

The River Rivelin rises on the Hallam Moors and flows for seven miles to join the River Loxley at Malin Bridge. After passing through the bottom of Wyming Brook Nature Reserve (for which see separate entry in this section), the second half of its route is through a long wooded valley.

The river and its associated millponds are home to grey heron, dipper, grey wagtail and kingfisher whilst in the woodlands can be found nuthatch, treecreeper, blackbird, long-tailed tit, siskin and goldcrest. The bird feeding station at Rails Road car park attracts chaffinch, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, mallard, moorhen, robin and nuthatch. It's also worth keeping an eye and ear out for ravens flying overhead.

Typical trees in the woodlands are alder, ash, beech, holly and oak. Spring flowers include bluebell, cow parsley, dog's mercury, stitchwort and wood sorrel. In the spring and summer, butterflies include speckled wood, comma and orange tip. At dusk, look out for bats patrolling the river or flying low over the mill dams.

As well as wildlife, the history of the area is of considerable interest. Dating from between the 16th and 19th centuries are the remains of 20 watermills and 21 mill dams which played a key role in the development of Sheffield's cutlery and steel industry. As these industries became less dependent on waterpower, the mills moved to more accessible areas of the city and the valley has slowly been reclaimed by nature.

The lower part of Rivelin Valley is now owned by the City Council. The Rivelin Valley Conservation Group was formed in 1991 with the aims of encouraging the effective management of the valley's wildlife habitats and developing the nature trail.

Access is straightforward with the 2.5 mile Rivelin Valley Nature and Heritage Trail following the river all the way from Rails Road car park in the west to the confluence with the River Loxley. The trail can be enjoyed at any time of year but, unfortunately, is not suitable for mobility scooters. A book, 'Walking the Rivelin', is available which features a trail guide with maps, historical details about each watermill site and notes on where to look for wildlife.

There are car parks at Rails Road in the west and Rivelin Park Cafe and Havelock Dam in the east. The eastern edge of the trail is close to the Malin Bridge terminus of the blue Supertram route and is also served by bus services 61/62 and 81/82. Services 257 and x57 will take you to the far end of the valley. For refreshments, Rivelin Park Cafe is open 10am to 5pm daily throughout the year and there are also a number of pubs close to the trail including the Rivelin Hotel and the Hollybush.