Green havens in heart of the city

Meersbrook Park.
Meersbrook Park.

Former council leader Paul Scriven: Endcliffe Park

As she looks down from her vantage point at the entrance to Endcliffe Park, Queen Victoria could say: “We are not amused”. In fact, we are and for very good reasons.

Endcliffe Park has always been my favourite. It isn’t just because I am lucky enough to live in a home backing on to the park – although looking out of my bedroom window and seeing the park change with the seasons is wonderful. It is the spirit and life that abounds in Endcliffe: a park for all and a park for fun, relaxation, walks, runs and feeding the ducks! It’s the variety of people and activities that go on there.

The café is a real community hub and an institution, as much a part of the park as the children’s playground next to it. The fairs that set up temporary home and the monuments – including the one to the US wartime aircrew whose plane crashed in the park – all help make Endcliffe the park to enjoy the whole year around.

Local history writer Ann Beedham: Meersbrook Park

The top of Meersbrook Park must have one of the best views in Sheffield. As well as appreciating the beauty, I can imagine people standing there watching the awful glow of the Blitz, or maybe even the smoke from the Castle skirmishes in the Civil War. Bishops’ House, the beautiful 16th century building in the park, would have seen it all, and survives as one of the loveliest old places to visit in the city. The area is full of history, and was once a scythe making hotspot. At the bottom of the park stands the fine building once home to the collection of art critic John Ruskin. Nearby is the walled garden, a magical little world of plants and glass houses.

From elegant Edwardian ladies, to earphone decked joggers, this park has been popular over many years; a great place to wander and soak up the scenery as well as our heritage. And the hills that give those great views are also a great place for sledging!

Sylvia Hamilton, Friends of High Hazels Park

Having lived in Darnall for 70-plus years, I have seen the park change. When I was a child, with all the pollution from the valley, it was a place we could escape to breathe clean air! Unfortunately the disappearance of the factories has not meant that clean air is a given. There are still pockets in our community that exceed European limits for pollution and so we still need our ‘lung’ to get away from it. With all the cuts it is increasingly important that we provide quality, safe play areas for our children many of whom do not go into the countryside. Unfortunately, we are in danger of slipping back into less favourable times. Maintenance is difficult to keep up to a high standard. We are very fortunate to have Carillion plc supporting us on volunteer days and the Friends group members do what they can. We also have a supervisor we can work with and together we are trying to make a difference, but it is really hard to sustain. What price health? I guess the sensory garden is my favourite part of the park, a real oasis.

Steve Mehdi, Man of Steel sculptor, Endcliffe Park.

I lived nearby for many years and I’ve often used it to relax on sunny days, or to walk with friends through the avenue of trees during colder spells. It’s a friendly, welcoming space that has changed little, while everything has changed around it. It has lots of different spaces and, of course, the Porter Brook runs through it. There’s always something happening - early morning training, football, fairs, charity events and occasionally romance! It’s close to Ecclesall Road and there is an infectious energy that spills off the street, alerting you to the bars and restaurants. I feel the connection with previous generations who must have felt the same way.

Tracy Viner, marketing & development Manager, Cathedral Archer Project, Green Oak Park, Totley

It has everything you need in a park in a small, well-designed space – except for the sloping football pitches! It is across the road from my house, so there are no parking issues! It also has a children’s play area, great for taking small relatives or mini-friends. There’s a zip line too (but I always feel a bit too embarrassed to have a go)! Green Oak Park has some lovely open spaces, some beautiful mature trees and shrubs and one of the most attractive features is the regularly changing flower beds. What really makes it my favourite is that once there, you feel as if you are miles away from everywhere, but you are still in the city with views up to Bradway and into Derbyshire.

Victoria Civil, amateur half-marathon runner and PR professional, Porter Valley

I’ve never really thought about my favourite park. I grew up going to Bingham and the Shepherd’s Wheel as we lived just up the road. Since I started running I have grown to love and hate this network of parks that include Endcliffe, Bingham, Wiremill and Forge Dam. The varied terrain and steady incline make it a challenging and, I suppose, interesting run. I was coerced into running up through Mayfield to the alpaca farm, which completes the incline at 700m (according to my running app) because it would be great training! This is the area I used to ride my bike with my best friend Toni, when we were old enough to go on our own, and where I have re-learned to ride a bike with my fiancé, Ben. No review of these parks would be complete without a mention of Forge Dam slide – which I can still just about get down now!

Sarah Plant, marketing manager, Alpharoom.com, Graves Park.

It’s so big and there is a great play area as well as the farm. There’s a range of activities for children (and adults) of all ages. My little boy loves the sunken trampoline thing in the park, he also likes to try and climb under the chick coop. The farm section lets you interact with goats, chickens, sheep and the other week they had an emu – I mean where else in Sheffield can you see an emu? The café is brilliant - reasonably priced and with a large area of toys to keep the kids entertained. The cakes are great. I recommend the tiffin. I am slightly unimpressed that you now have parking to consider, but this seems to be the way things are going.

Lynda Price, Lynda V Price salon, Ecclesall Road, Endcliffe Park.

I have known Endcliffe Park since 1980 and it is very dear to my heart – you could say I’ve grown up with it! I came to Sheffield after coming back from Australia. Ecclesall Road and Endcliffe Park were the places I came to most frequently and eventually I opened my salon within a few minutes’ walk. The park offers so many different things, from the circus to fun fairs, and in the summer it’s lovely to see it packed with people of all ages enjoying themselves. At the same time, it’s very peaceful. I used to take my twins there virtually every Sunday to feed the ducks – they loved the swings too – and then we’d wander off to the Botanical Gardens. And on top of everything else there’s the excellent café, making it the perfect park.

Sam Cartwright, marketing manager, Mylnhurst Preparatory School & Nursery, Graves Park

Having been brought up within 200 metres of the entrance, Graves Park has to be my favourite. Although the recent additions of new playground and upgraded café and farmyard are invaluable to me, as parent of a very energetic two-year-old, the sheer size and diversity of the park mark it head and shoulders above the rest. Memories of football and rounders on the fields, feeding the ducks, long walks through the woods, and golf and tennis on long summer evenings feature prevalently when I look back on my own childhood. I hope my daughter will feel the same. We certainly can’t walk past now without being dragged to the swings and the ducks!

Bryan Unkles, Cafeology, Meersbrook Park

There are many fantastic parks to choose from, but my favourite has to be Meersbrook. Although I don’t live particularly nearby, our last office was on Valley Road. The park provides the most amazing views of our wonderful city and is popular for everyone from commuters making their way to Chesterfield Road to dog walkers and on the rare days we have heavy snow, it becomes a hive of activity for all age groups. It also provides a challenge to get the heart rate up by reaching the top as quickly as possible either by foot or bike.