Sunday, 24 April 2016

Out and about - local parks and green spaces

Spring has arrived!
One of the great pleasures of taking retirement is having the time to meet up in the daytime with friends who are also retired. Often this means going somewhere local for a chat over coffee and cakes or possibly over lunch. But sometimes, and with one particular friend, it means making more of an effort and going for a walk too.

Our city, Sheffield, has more public parks and green spaces than most other European cities and is known for being the greenest city in Britain. It also has the Peak District National Park within its city boundary so there is no shortage of places to go walking here. 
Information about these parks can be found here on the parks and woodlands pages of the Sheffield website.

We thought it would be a good idea to try to visit a different park or green space each time we meet up, starting with those one or both us were already familiar with (and that we knew had a cafe!) and then moving on to ones new to us. There are so many possibilities that this project should keep us busy for many years to come. 

Although we do not manage to meet up as often as we would like, we have now visited several of our local parks. Apart from the much needed exercise we experience from walking around the parks, our visits have also helped me realise how much I still have to learn about the history of the city in which I live. We are extremely lucky to have so much green and open space which is mainly thanks to the generosity of public benefactors such as Alderman J.G. Graves, who presented Graves Park to Sheffield between 1925 and 1936, and Mark Firth who gave Firth Park to the people of Sheffield in 1875. 

High Hazels Park

The first park we visited together was High Hazels Park. This is a park I visited regularly in my childhood and which holds many memories for me of playing on the climbing frame and swings in the children's playground, roller skating on the bandstand and even sledging in the winter. The playground is still there as is the bandstand but the small shop at the side gates and the cafe at the top near the playground are now shut and the only place to buy refreshments is inside the golfers' clubhouse. 

Walking through the formal garden behind the clubhouse, we were sad to see that it was in need of some care and attention. As it was lunchtime we were provided with an excellent excuse to go inside and explore the rooms of this old building which I had never been in before. Built in 1850 as High Hazels House, it was originally the home of  the Jeffcock family and was a magnificent house with numerous bedrooms and stabling for 12 horses. 

Unfortunately I don't seem to have taken any photos on our visit to this park so it looks like I will need to return here in the near future with my camera! 

Whirlow Brooke Park

Whirlow Brooke Hall
The most recent park we have visited is Whirlow Brooke Park. This park was new to me though my friend had in the past attended meetings there in the Hall. 

I have driven past the entrance to this park many times on the way out to or back from trips into the Peak District but had not even realised that behind the entrance there was a park open to the public.  

I was amazed at just how big this park is and, although it was a cool day, it was really lovely to walk around picking out the first signs of spring. It is an extremely peaceful space and there are many places to stop, to sit and reflect or to quietly chat with a friend. In fact I don't think I have ever seen so many benches in a park as we noticed on our stroll around this one. I wish other places would follow this example. Places to rest or just take in the scenery are really important and not only for the retired!

I cannot believe that, although I wrote this two weeks ago before we went on holiday to France, I forgot to press the Publish button!!