loxley valley

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March 11th 1864: The Great Sheffield Flood

On this day in 1864, the Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield broke, causing one of the largest floods in English history. 650 million gallons of water swept down Loxley Valley and through areas of Sheffield. The flood destroyed 800 homes and killed around 293 people, thus making it the largest man-made disaster to befall England, and one of the deadliest floods in history. Individual stories from the disaster are particularly tragic. For example, Joseph Dawson found the currents too strong and was unable to save both his wife and two day old baby boy - the Dawsons’ unnamed child became the first victim of the floods. The destruction afterwards led one observer to remark that Sheffield was “looking like a battlefield.” While this tragedy is often forgotten in English history, many Sheffielders take this day to remember what once happened to their city.

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There is something so breath taking about walking in a woodland after commuting around a concrete and brick filled city like Sheffield (especially if you are a landscape student). Appreciation of nature is not a must but if you are interested I can list down specific vegetation that is in the woodland. It’s mainly Sycamore, Oak and Hawthorn. 

Not only is the valley a great place to walk but it is a good place to draw and plank on trees (inside joke on fourth image). 

The improvement the woodland corridor needs is a better access from Wisewood (to connect urban folks to the woodland better) and a visitor center for informed walks and other activities such as kayaking.

The last picture is of the river and a weir (part of Sheffield’s industrial past). A weir is used to control the flow of the river and in this case it helps keep the water clean as there is no build up of debris. 

I really recommend you go. The path is very rough with roots sticking out in some parts so I don’t recommend you taking baby prams and disabled wheelchairs. But if you are really adventurous take a mountain bike with you– most of the path is undulating, rough and challenging!

(If you want to reference this image: Rodas Bisrat. 2013. Site: Woodland Corridor Walk, Loxley Valley, Sheffield. [Online image] University of Sheffield.)