The Rivelin valley holds hidden beauty and some of the history of Sheffield’s mills. Today the valley is a wonderful area to discover lovely picturesque waterfalls and stepping stones along with a tranquil, laid back atmosphere, a perfect place to meander along and find time to enjoy this enchanting nature trail through the valley. It’s surprising how peaceful it feels to be in the valley and beside the river Rivelin with the main road, the A57 just a stone’s throw away.
The Rivelin valley was once a hive of activity, with water powered mills throughout. The Rivelin corn mill was first noted in 1632 but could have dated back to 1600 belonging to the Earls of Shrewsbury and later the Dukes of Norfolk and recorded at the time as the only water powered mill for the sole use of grinding corn, the mill would have served the farmers in the Bradfield parish and would most likely have been taking a more profitable income than the cutlers’ wheels at that time. The area was primarily known for its part in the manufacturing of cutlery made from the local Sheffield steel. Most of the water powered mills along the river Rivelin were used to grind and finish cutlery. The evidence of the mills can be seen along this trail and sponsored information posts are in place to keep the history alive.
Nature has reclaimed the riverside which, I must say is very easy on the eye and the natural power of the water where it had been harnessed to power the mills has created some truly beautiful waterfalls. The largest water wheel was the Wolf Wheel and many other mills were in operation throughout the area including the swallow wheel and the plonk wheel.
There are a few choices of route through the valley, from the point in which we joined the river there was an easy, more accessible route or the more interesting pathway, including stepping stones cobbled paths, rocky river crossings and a closer view of the waterfalls, which was obviously the route to choose for myself and family. We had brought along a picnic lunch and very soon found a true beauty spot, we sat on a log and enjoyed our lunch while watching the water tumble and crash over a waterfall, whilst all along little wagtails flitted and flew across the river going about their business. It is so incredibly chilled here, just what I’d been looking for, a spot to linger and just be, switch off if you like, mesmerised by the water, sitting on a log and just taking in the peacefulness of the surroundings.
Once we were done eating and pondering, we set off once again and crossed the river Rivelin over the rocks and a set of stepping stones. If taking this route, I’d advise a sturdy pair of boots or walking shoes so not to slip, caution advised. I must admit it’s fun to cross this way, and again the scenery is so enchanting.
All along the route you’ll find more history of the water powered mills as well as cobbled pathways, wildlife if you are mindful and observant, plus of course the peaceful ebb and flow of the river by your side as it winds its way through the trees in this pretty valley.
I haven’t really touched on the full history of the Rivelin valley though there is evidence of occupation in the area as far back as Roman times, and the valley was part of a large hunting ground and known as Rivelin Chase in medieval times. The nearby Rivelin Dams and the Rivelin rocks are close by and well worth a visit if you happen to be around the area which I’ll give more direct insight to in the future. The river Rivelin joins the river Loxley at Malin bridge in the Loxley valley, near to the Damflask reservoir which is part of a group of reservoirs, Strines, Agden and Dale Dike. The Damflask reservoir was originally used not only as a water supply but as a compensation reservoir ensuring a constant flow to the river Loxley downstream. Loxley valley has quite enough history of its own, so here’s a little snippet of insight into the Loxley Valley in case you are interested. Loxley chase was quite an extensive forest in the 12th century and extended through to Nottinghamshire where it joined the very extensive Sherwood forest, you can perhaps see where I’m going with this. Loxley is one of the proclaimed birth places of Robin Hood at Little Haggas Croft in 1160.
Coming back to Rivelin valley and my new-found love for the area. I quote a piece by the “Corn Law Rhymer” Ebenezer Elliott who, like myself liked to sit and appreciate nature.
Farewell to Rivelin
Beautiful river! goldenly shining,
Where, with the cistus, woodbines are twining,
Birklands around thee, mountains above thee,
Rivelin wildest! Do I not love thee.
I hope you enjoyed my small insight into this stunning location and maybe find time to sit and appreciate nature here too. Maybe you’ll follow in our footsteps for a little natural therapy, slow down the pace a little. You might say… “Calm Down and Relax by the River Rivelin!”