60 miles for 60 years: walk 2

There are details here about my personal reasons for walking sixty miles to raise money for the Sheffield Environmental Movement

It’s embarrassing to admit this now, but when I lived in London, I imagined Sheffield – if I ever thought of it at all – as a busy, grimy place with a lot of industry. Now I’m ashamed of my ignorance. My beloved adopted home is in fact a city of woods and water. Almost anywhere is within walking distance of green spaces that feel as though they are in the middle of the countryside.

This is the River Loxley, about ten minutes’ walk from a tram terminus.

And here’s a shot of the River Rivelin, not far from the Sheffield Wednesday football ground.

And for the second walk of this fundraising project, I went to the Moss Valley in south-east Sheffield, an area I’d never visited before. It’s situated quite close to the Gleadless Valley housing estate, and we met at the Birley Lane tram stop (the Covid-19 ‘rule of six’ was in force or there would have been more of us).

But within a few minutes of walking, we were in open countryside.

That’s my PhD supervisor, Harriet Tarlo, on the edge there, an appropriate shot since she’s written a whole collection of poetry called Field.

And here’s another poet friend, Andrew Jeffrey, who also did a PhD with Harriet. His work centred on the Moss Valley, the very place where we were walking, so it was wonderful to get his perspective on the area. This is an apt picture for Andrew, since he has produced an artist’s book with Abi Goodman on the stiles of the valley.

It was great to have Harriet’s partner, the brilliant artist Judith Tucker, along with us. Sadly I think the only picture I’ve got of her is the one of us setting off, but she did send me this lovely shot of her beautiful dog, Esther. Sorry, Judy!

It was a varied walk, as walks around the edge of Sheffield often are. Much of the Moss Valley is ancient woodland and forms a nature reserve run by the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

There were also huge stretches of open field and farmland.

We stopped for Covid-secure refreshments at the Bridge Inn in the ancient hamlet of Ford

On the right in this picture is Maxwell Ayamba, the project manager for the Sheffield Environmental Movement. I was really honoured to have him join us, and blown away hearing about the number of things he’s done to fight for better access to the countryside for people from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) groups. I highly recommend this excellent article of his on the CPRE website.

As well as being an extraordinary activist and Black Studies scholar, Maxwell is trained in environmental management and taught us all something about tar spot fungus, shown below on some maple leaves at the back of my flat.

The fungus is sensitive to sulphur dioxide, so although it looks unhealthy – and it does sometimes cause maple leaves to drop early – it’s actually a sign that the air is relatively clean.

So that’s eighteen miles of my sixty done! I was planning to do the next walk in December, but December looks pretty challenging in terms of mixing socially. So I’m going to resume in January – four more walks between then and my next birthday in July, covering at least forty-two miles.

I’m still a tiny bit off my £1,200 target so if, after reading this, you feel like supporting the excellent work that Maxwell and the Sheffield Environmental Movement do, you could perhaps make a small donation here!

Thanks to Julian, Judy, Harriet and Maxwell for the photographs.

Walk 2 summary

Route: From Birley Lane tram stop, a clockwise loop around the Moss Valley with a stop at the Bridge Inn, Ford

Distance: 8 miles (approx)

Walkers: Maxwell, Harriet, Judy (with Esther), Andrew, Julian and Jo

Cake: Ginger and banana