Escape from the city and find peace in the South Yorkshire suburb of Whirlow

PUBLISHED: 08:33 02 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 20 February 2013

Deputy head of education at Whirlow Hall Farm, Ros Purkis, pets one of the farm’s ponies

Deputy head of education at Whirlow Hall Farm, Ros Purkis, pets one of the farm’s ponies

Whirlow is a South Yorkshire suburb not far from a 'manically busy' part of Sheffield yet has a tranquil serenity enjoyed by country lovers

Theres not a single shop, pub or restaurant in the Sheffield suburb of Whirlow. But who needs them when a few minutes up the road is Sheffields golden mile Ecclesall Road, where you can buy almost anything in a variety of shades, shapes and sizes?

What Whirlow does have, though, is style, beauty and a rural setting that beggars belief on the edge of a sprawling city once renowned for its heavy industry. It is not a village and is not recognised on my satnav, yet it is home to a city farm and two parks and much of it is in a conservation area.

Whirlow straddles the A625 where the manically busy Ecclesall Road turns into a quieter Hathersage Road and, within a mile or two, you are out in open countryside. It also rubs shoulders with well-heeled Dore, said to be Sheffields wealthiest suburb, and you can see some of that in Whirlow with its eclectic mix of traditional semi-detached houses, modern little cul-de-sacs and some impressive as well as expensive individual stone-built homes.

The heart of Whirlow is Whirlowbrook Hall which was built in 1906 as the home of Sheffield industrialist Sir Walter Benton-Jones. Nowadays it is a venue for weddings, conferences and events. Among the events is the Community Fair on May 2nd with its food stalls, live music, magicians, face painting and Bouncy Castle. Philippa Debono, sales and marketing manager at Whirlowbrook Hall, said: We are looking forward to welcoming families and friends on what will be a great day out for everyone.

In addition to the traditional fair attractions, we are also hoping to have some soapboxes on display to give people a taste of the Soapbox Challenge we are planning for the end of September.

We would love everyone to get involved and submit a team for the soapbox derby in aid of Cavendish Cancer Care, a Sheffield-based charity set up 15 years ago to support those affected by cancer in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. It is great fun and all the proceeds, including the team entry fee, go to a really worthwhile cause.

Whirlow Hall is set in Whirlowbrook Park, 39 acres of park and woodland maintained by Sheffield City Council and which is open to the public.

Where it is: Whirlow is on the south west edge of Sheffield on the A625 Sheffield-Hathersage Road, four miles from the city centre. There are regular buses to and from Sheffield Travel Interchange.

Where to park: There is some free on-street parking (but please respect the residents) and free parking in Whirlow-brook Park and at Whirlow Hall Farm.

What to do: Visit Whirlowbrook Park, 39 acres of tranquil, public park and woodlands. The area is popular with hikers and beside the park entrance is access onto Sheffield Round Walk, a 14-mile walk through the parks, woodland and countryside of south west Sheffield.

Whirlow Hall Farm is a 138-acre charitable trust farm with horses, sheep, pigs, poultry, goats, cows and pick-your-own fruit. It has a farm shop and is open Mondays to Saturdays for school parties and to the public on Sundays, 11.30am to 4pm. 0114 235 2678.
Community Fair or the Soapbox Challenge, call Whirlowbrook Hall 0114 221 3003 or see soapbox for further details.

Next to it is quick and easy access to one of the areas that make up the Sheffield Round Walk, a 14-mile trek through the parks, woodland and countryside of south west Sheffield.
The walk starts in Endcliffe Park at Hunters Bar goes through Whiteley Woods up into Mayfield and Porter Valley, emerging at Ringinglow before descending again into Whirlow and Ecclesall Woods. There is an ascent into Ladies Spring Wood, through Beauchief and Chancet Wood then into Graves Park and down through Gleadless Valley, returning to Hunters Bar via Meersbrook Park and Brincliffe Edge Woods.

Many areas of land on the Round Walk were gifted to the city council by J G Graves and the J G Graves Charitable Trust. John George Graves was a Sheffield entrepreneur who pioneered one of the first mail order businesses in England and became Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 1926.

But another attraction that has people flocking to Whirlow is Whirlow Hall Farm, a working farm that was set up as a charitable trust in 1979 to provide an education centre for Sheffield schoolchildren, particularly to provide a location where inner-city children could visit and experience rural life.

It offers a hands-on experience, often for children who have never seen a farm animal in the flesh and from its earliest days careful consideration was given to providing access for young people with disabilities and special needs.

Since the farm opened, more than 250,000 schoolchildren have visited it for free from all over the country. The 138-acre farm has horses, sheep, pigs, a poultry shed and a few goats and cows. And there is also an area that is full of pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs and other abandoned or mistreated animals.

Whirlow Hall Farm is mainly used during the week and on Saturdays for pre-arranged parties and is only open to the public on Sundays between 11.30am and 4pm. I said it was a working farm and to prove it, in the farm shop you can buy the farms own bacon rashers, chops or steaks.

Next to Whirlowbrook Park is the Whinfell Quarry Garden, a beautiful, Victorian hidden garden listed by English Heritage as a garden of special historic interest. It was created at the start of the 20th century in a derelict flagstone quarry to house a collection of rare and historic plants from around the world. Footpaths fell into disrepair over the years as the garden suffered from neglect but now the Friends of Whinfell Quarry Garden are working to raise funds and reclaim and restore the tranquil area.

Whirlow is in the ward represented by Sheffield councillor Colin Ross, who is also the councils cabinet member for employment, enterprise and development. He lives in Dore and is one of the people working to protect Whirlow from infill development or, as he puts it, garden grabbing.

Whirlow is a beautiful area and we have to preserve its character. Whenever I need to recharge my batteries I go into Whirlowbrook Park and relax, enjoying the peace and beauty, he said. It is one of the many areas that demonstrate Sheffields claim to be the greenest city in Europe.

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