Scrolling down the page will quickly show how varied and wide-ranging the projects are.


Sheffield Dales

What I call the 'Sheffield Dales' is, of course, part of the Metropolitan County of South Yorkshire. There were losses and gains when the historic county of Yorkshire was divided - I'm referring to general advantages and disadvantages, not gains and losses of land. I think that the reorganization worked in the case of South Yorkshire. The changes aren't necessarily permanent. In the case of Cumbria, the administrative county of Cumbria will be abolished and replaced with two new unitary authorities. One is Westmorland and Furness, the other is Cumberland.

Below, a map of South Yorkshire, which I'm privileged to call my home county, even though I have some of the attitudes of a frontiersman, feeling a great affinity for what lies over the border as well as what lies within the border. In this case, the Derbyshire border is not far away. The villages and countryside over the border interest me a great deal, and I've often visited them - but there are no areas of the country which have no interest for me.

Below, the position of South Yorkshire in the map of the counties of England.

It would be possible to extend the 'Sheffield Dales' and form the 'South Yorkshire Dales,' the places drained by  the rivers of South Yorkshire. There would necessarily be expanses and smaller areas of industrial activity but industry is a strong interest of mine. Another strong interest is vernacular architecture. This will be obvious from the images of buildings on this page. The vernacular architecture of South Yorkshire is very interesting, far richer than many people would think. South Yorkshire does include some examples of architecture with a claim to national importance. This is the Baroque West Front of Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Below, interesting vernacular architecture: the Market Hall of Penistone, a cruck-framed building.

The first image below shows a scene in the Yorkshire Dales. Other images in this section show buildings and landscape in 'The Sheffield Dales.' Most of the text follows  the photographs in this column. Click on the highlighted text to go to   The introduction to this section after the images.




Below, dam at Old Wheel Farm, Loxley Valley
In this valley, water powered medieval corn mills and the wheels used for manufacturing agricultural implements and cutlery. Later, there was heavier industry, including factories which made furnace bricks for steel works. In 1864, this area was devastated when a much bigger dam, the Dale Dyke Dam, collapsed. An estimated 3 million cubic metres of water swept down the Loxley Valley, through Loxley Village and on to Malin Bridge and Hillsborough, where the River Loxley flows into the River Don. The water flowed down the Don into the centre of Sheffield. More than 240 peple were killed.


Introduction to this section

For the time being, the account here is very brief. The significance of  'Sheffield Dales,' what I mean by 'Sheffield Dales,' can be explained, to begin with, by a mention of the Yorkshire Dales. The first image in this section is of fields and buildings in the Yorkshire Dales. The landscape of the Yorkshire Dales is admired by very many people, and many people feel - as I do - that  the buildings have a rightness in this landscape, that they aren't in the least jarring, an intrusion in this landscape. There are many areas where it would be impossible to make the same claim, that the buildings are a fitting part of the landscape. Not all the buildings in the Yorkshire Dales are equally at home in the landscape. The buildings which fit into the landscape particularly well are examples of vernacular architecture. These particular buildings are generally made of stone, and often the roofs, like the walls, are stone, stone slates. The vernacular architecture of England is very varied in its styles, techniques and materials. The materials include building stones as different as Cotswold limestones and granite, Welsh and Cumbrian slate, roofing of tiles and thatch - and so much more, a wonderful achievement.

The characteristic vernacular architecture of the North Pennines is widely recognized and admired but the vernacular architecture of the South Pennines deserves wider recognition. Sheffield, much further south than the Yorkshire Dales, has buildings with strong linkages with those of the Yorkshire Dales but buildings which are distinctive. In such settlements as Bradfield and Dungworth, in the farmhouses and other farm buildings not part of any settlement, the buildings blend with the landscape and enhance the landscape and stand out from the landscape. The varying landscape of the 'Sheffield Dales' is different from much of the Yorkshire Dales, often well wooded, as in the area beyond Bradfield, towards the Derbyshire border. The trees, particularly the beech trees, are stunning in autumn.

This area, the area of the Loxley and Rivelin valleys and other valleys of Sheffield and the hills which emerge from the valleys, is an area which deserves to be given wider recognition not just for its natural beauty, the quality of the vernacular architecture but the industrial achievement to be found in it and the relics of industry. For the Rivelin Valley, an outstanding contribution to the appreciation of the valley is 'Walking the Rivelin: A pocket guide to the industrial heritage and natural history of the Rivelin Valley' (Arc Publishing.) I've walked along the Rivelin Valley countless times, often the full length of the Rivelin trail, almost, and then back to my starting point

 I intend to add to the images of vernacular buildings in this section. If it happens that the owner or occupier of a building shown on this page would prefer the building not to be shown, for any reason, I'll remove the image. An email to me requesting this to be done won't appear in the public domain. All emails to me remain private, unless the sender gives me permission to publish.

The Rivelin and the Loxley are rivers that can be reached very quickly from here, but I include in the 'Sheffield Dales' a large area - the other rivers of Sheffield, the hills above them, the land they drain, everything within the Sheffield City boundary, in fact. Only proportion of the Sheffield Dales area could be called picturesque, pretty, beautiful, but I regard places which are plain, unattractive, ugly as well worth - I won't use the overused word 'celebrating' - but well worth including in the Yorkshire Dales if they have significance of one kind or another - or could have. To give one single example, I think of an outstanding brewery in the Sheaf Valley area.

The River Don, of course, has vast significance. The River Don engine, now housed in the Kelham Island Industrial Museum, is shown above.

For me, the Sheffield Dales have versions. My version of the Sheffield Dales follows from my interests. It includes landscape and vernacular architecture. The landscape includes gardens, farms (sheep farms, dairy farms and arable farms), orchards, woods, wetlands, the rivers themselves, of course, the plant and animal life to be found in them, but also rocks. The rocky outcrops, such as Stanage Edge, are certainly an interest. It includes breweries, but I've no interest in dining out, in cafes and restaurants and coffee bars. I do have a strong interest in food and cooking.

An interest I still have, but an activity which I haven't been able to practise for a long time, for more than one reason, but the mildness of recent winters is one of them, is cross-country skiing and particularly downhill cross country skiing. I skied in the Derbyshire hills, particularly in the area near Edale, and in the hills just beyond Stannington. I've also skied at Chamonix in the Alps. (I took the train to Chamonix and when I arrived found a camsite and pitched my tent in the snow.) The experience of skiing at Chamonix was exhilarating, since the slopes are obviously so much longer than anywhere in South Yorkshire or Derbyshire but the experience was incomparably less moving, less important to me than the experience of skiing near Stannington and seeing a mountain hare with its white winter fur, incomparably less moving, less important the experience of skiing on a frozen pond in the Rivelin Valley, after night had fallen. In 'The Prelude,' Wordsworth writes of skating on the frozen Esthwaite Water. ('Book First,' lines 425 - 463.) 'It was a time of rapture ... ' (line 430.) I felt privileged in the same way.

Year after year, for a very long time, I've been to see the autumn trees in the part of the 'Sheffield Dales' near here. The autumn foliage of the beech trees has given me much, much more than the experience of seeing the Grand Canyon, Arizona, a very long time ago. The foliage is more muted in some years, but visitors from outside Sheffield would surely find that it's worth their while to travel a long distance to see the splendour of the beech trees in the Bradfield area, as well as other parts of the 'Sheffield Dales.' In autumn, the green of the beech trees becomes a brown which is anything but mute,   becomes golden-orange-brown, not mute, magnificent

As for visits to the 'Sheffield Dales' and tourism in the 'Sheffield Dales,' this, an increase in visits and tourism would be welcomed by many people and not welcomed at all by others. In this part of the Yorkshire Dales, many businesses would benefit but many people living in the area would regret any loss of quietness, tranquillity, the chance to enjoy solitude. This area is already busy and sometimes crowded, but many parts are far from busy and far from crowded. Anyone tired of the Lake District congestion and the relative congestion of parts of the Derbyshire Peak District would surely find the less crowded parts of the 'Sheffield Dales' to their liking.

If, to give just one example, if the hamlet of Storrs  ever became a magnet for visitors, crowded and congested at some times of year, then it would be completely understandable for residents of Storrs  to resent that. For this reason, it would be understandable if residents of Storrs, or most of the residents, opposed this project, if it ever came anywhere near fruition, and similarly for many other places. I've been visting Storrs regularly - the vernacular architecture is a particular reason for visiting - and I too would regret the loss of quietness. I don't think Bradfield, a much busier place, has been ruined by its visitors at all, though. In quiet areas, some bustling and busy places are a welcome contrast. Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales is another, more sizeable example of such a place.

One significant advantage of the 'Sheffield Dales' for visitors, visitors from Sheffield and visitors from far away, is that, as with the Yorkshire Dales,  the landscape and the buildings can look just as good in poor weather as in good weather. They can be enjoyed in warm or hot weather, obviously, but  overcast conditions, even wet and windy conditions, can accentuate the appeal rather than lessen it. This is an advantage which Yorkshire has but which many other areas of the country don't have, or not to nearly the same extent. The Cotswolds come to mind.

My version leaves out many, many things that would be present in the other people's versions of the Sheffield Dales - if the Sheffield Dales, the Sheffield Dales PHD (Paul Hurt Design) project, that is, ever became an interest of people other than myself. If it ever did, then the PHD connection could be dropped or not emphasized at all. This page is one page among many on the site, of course. There are opinions of mine on some pages which wouldn't be shared by people who share my enthusiasm for the places discussed in this section. There are many, many demands on my time. Ideally, the project would need to be taken on by other people, if they decided that it could be developed and promoted - but not promoted by bureaucratic methods, or the methods of the people whose interest in marketing is much greater than their interest in places of tranquillity, places which are significant, but not significant because they are viewed simply as significant marketing opportunities. I have great respect and admiration for the achievements of commerce and business, which are often massive achievements, but  I myself don't have the aptitude, the necessary skills, to have succeeded in any branch of commerce or business.

Sheffield has enormous variety, capable of satisfying many interests. This is well expressed in the Wikipedia article 'Geography of Sheffield.'

'Sheffield is the most geographically diverse city in England. Lying in the eastern foothills of the Pennines,  the city nestles in a natural amphitheatre created by several hills and the confluence of five rivers: Don, Sheaf, Rivelin, Loxley and Porter.  As such, much of the city is built on hillsides, with views into the city centre or out to the countryside ...

'Sheffield has more trees per person than any city in Europe, outnumbering people 4 to 1. It has over 170 woodlands covering 28.27 km2 (6985 acres), 78 public parks covering 18.30 km2 (4522 acres) and 10 public gardens. Added to the 134.66 km2 (33,275 acres) of national park and 10.87 km2 (2686 acres) of water this means that 61% of the 362.38 km2 that the city encompasses is greenspace. 

'Sheffield also has more types of habitat  than any city in the UK. As well as urban, parkland and woodland it has agricultural and arable land, moors, meadows and freshwater based habitats. Large parts of the city are designated as Site of Special Scientific Interest including several urban areas.'

As I see it, the Sheffield Dales project also allows for extension, as well as a certain modesty, which isn't incompatible with justifiable pride. There should be no excessive claims.

I live in a border area. The Derbyshire border isn't far away, and the boundary of the Peak District National Park is even nearer. Some of the Peak District National Park is within the city boundaries. For a very long time, the landscape and villages of the Derbyshire Peak District have been very familiar, and I've visited them far more often than most places in Yorkshire. (More recently, though, I've developed a much stronger affinity with the County of Yorkshire, the Yorkshire which lies beyond Sheffield.) I've been to Bamford and Hathersage, Hope and Castle, Edale, so many places in the White Peak and the Dark Peak, countless times.

But I have a strong interest in the regions of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. An appreciation of Sheffield's industrial might shouldn't exclude an interest in the industrial might of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast and other places - Derby, the technological expertise to be found all over the country.

Interest in the fascinating history of water power on the Rivelin can go with an interest in the fascinating history of water power in other places. Interest in the canals of Sheffield can go with an interest in the canals of other places. Sheffield has nothing to compare with the aqueduct which carries the canal over a river valley at Marple, Cheshire. The rivers of Sheffield are narrow, including the Don, and obviously the Don can't match the Severn for breadth or beauty. The Severn has industrial significance too over some of its length. Ironbridge is the best-known example, deservedly.

But the Sheffield Dales have so much to offer people with an interest in industrial history - I'm certainly one of them. There are important industrial history sites set in the countryside, such as the sites of the Rivelin Valley, and important urban sites in the Don Valley and other places. Many Sheffielders already know this but many people outside the area would do well to find out more about the attractions and the fascination of the area.and but my page on green thinking, organizations and activism: will include more comment.  page












   Sheffield Dales





Sheffield wheat and barley

 The first three images: barley growing in the Loxley Valley, Sheffield, in the area I call the 'Sheffield Dales,' an area of valleys between low hills.

The fourth and fifth images: barley growing in a large field adjoining the road from Worrall to Bradfield in late July. The wheat is some way from full ripening in general: this is an upland field. The tree in the fifth image is a sycamore, to me an unprepossessing tree in general but valued by so many country people, past and present. Amongst its advantages, its resistance to wind, its value to wildlife, the value of its wood for some purposes - and, despite the size it grows to, the frequent allure of its clear-cut outline, as in this image.

The sixth and seventh images: barley grown and harvested in flatlands, far from Sheffield.

The eighth image, some of the machinery in the Worsbrough Mill, South Yorkshire. The mill is well worth a visit - in fact, various visits.

I appreciate the flatlands of South Yorkshire as well as the dales, which are mainly in Sheffield - and, of course, the valleys, hills, mountains and flatlands of other parts of the country, and other countries - the hills and mountains of Cumbria, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the flatlands of Lincolnshire and Essex, and all the other areas which have so much significance for me.

Often, things which are useful or indispensable aren't beautiful and things which are beautiful aren't useful or indispensable. In the case of wheat and barley growing, beauty and use are combined, and technology doesn't lessen in the least the beauty. Using modern technology, the only adequate technology if large populations are to be fed, at harvest time, fields of wheat and barley are combined - the wheat and barley are harvested using combine harvesters, astounding examples of human ingenuity and resourcefulness.

A Youtube video which has an intense and vivid depiction of a field of barley, a young woman in the midst of the barley, and which gives the words of an unforgettable and compelling song, about human emotions. The title of the video is Sting Fields of Gold Lyrics and the address is

Although brewers and beer drinkers are in absolutely no danger of overlooking the huge importance of barley in brewing (and wheat for brewing wheat beer), I think that the aesthetics of barley and barley fields and wheat and wheat fields are often overlooked.

For me, a field of ripe barley or wheat is one of the most magnificent sights of the countryside. There are farms very near here and farm after farm after that. Nearly all of them are sheep farms. The image at the beginning of this section shows an exception, a field of ripe barley I came across in the Loxley Valley, Sheffield. This valley and other areas were devastated during the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864 after the Dale Dyke Dam gave way. An estimated 3 million cubic metres  of water swept down the Loxley Valley and through Loxley Village. The flood continued south from the River Loxley to  the River Don,  towards central Sheffield. More than 240 people were killed.

Within the boundaries of South Yorkshire are many farms where wheat and barley are grown. Photographs of these fields will be regarded by many people as very plain, but to look at a field of ripe wheat or barley can be, if not the experience of a lifetime, one of those experiences which are absorbing and rewarding - but far more than that.

I favour the planting of wildflowers at the margins of wheat and barley flowers, but the wildflowers are an enhancement of something which is already magnificent. Obviously, the planting of wildflowers is just as much an intervention as the planting of wheat or barley.

I own a scythe, which I used when I first took on my allotments, I still have an interest in the rhythm of scything, the world of scything, but no interest in using a scythe now in my allotments. If modern machines are often intrusive, practicalities and realities are often even more intrusive. My allotments now are much more intensively used - this isn't intensive gardening, let alone intensive farming, but simply gardening which makes the best use of this scare resource, the land I have available. Individuals may choose to harvest barley or wheat in their small-scale growing but obviously, this is no way to grow cereal crops for baking or brewing.

Small scale growing of barley and wheat, the only kind of growing which is feasible when a scythe is used, is aesthetically limited, to me. A large field of barley or wheat is what I call an 'expanse,' something which has 'scale.' 'Scale' is offered by large, very large vistas, such as the sea, seen, perhaps, from a cliff in Devon or Cornwall or Pembrokeshire or Yorkshire. A pool can offer intense experiences, but not the intense experience of scale.

Some of the belt drives in a combine harvester:


These may not seem to have much in the way of aesthetic appeal, or any aesthetic appeal at all, apart from the aesthetic appeal offered by geometrical forms - which can be substantial, offered by so many  Renaissance buildings and many works of contemporary architecture. Intricacy can be the basis of aesthetic appeal, intricacy of machine parts as well as intricacy of a wood carving. The belt drives and pulleys here do offer something like effective contrast, the contrast between linear and rounded. But I wouldn't want to make any claims that this is remarkable in any way for its aesthetic appeal.

Once the barley and the wheat have been harvested, the field can't have quite the same impact, although the wonderful colouring remains for a long time. The wonderful colouring remains for longer in the form of straw bales. I've used straw bales extensively for many years.

Traditional thatch has a strong appeal. It has a strong appeal for me. But the colour of traditional thatch, rained on, exposed to the elements, is distant from the colour of the straw which was used.

Straw bales give a way of capturing the the golden barley or the golden wheat, of having it there in one of my two allotments. Unlike thatch the roofing material, the straw bales I use in my allotments are protected. The straw bales which form one of the walls of the greenhouse extension are protected by the overhanging roof. Other straw bales are stored under the curved polycarbonate roofs of some small structures near the pond. The fading of the barley is very slow and the straw bales can easily be replaced when their gold has gone.

There are images of the straw bales I've used in many places in the gardening and design sections of the site, for example on this page

Sheffield hawthorn in May