The haven of Harthill, South Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 14:49 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:11 20 February 2013

Lyn Wood in the 'secret garden' of the 18th century cottage she shares with husband, Paul

Lyn Wood in the 'secret garden' of the 18th century cottage she shares with husband, Paul

A South Yorkshire village is hoping to hang on to its pretty, rural character as Bill Hearld reports

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. The South Yorkshire village of Harthill, near Sheffield, takes advantage of that one chance.

It's a sprawling but attractive, semi-rural settlement at the top of a hill (110 metres above sea level) and is guardian of the borders with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire only a stone's throw away.

And it is very, very quiet. 'Where is everyone?' I asked Lyn Wood, who was pottering in her lovely garden close to the deserted heart of the village. It was lunchtime on a summer weekday. 'They are all away, earning a living,' she said. I spotted two people at a bus stop, one or two in a small parade of shops and a few cars passing through.

Coal mining sustained Harthill until the 1980s and before that there was farming and the mining of whetstone, an abrasive stone used for sharpening knives and other tools.

Nowadays, Harthill (population 1,800) is a dormitory town and residents travel to Sheffield, Rotherham or even Chesterfield for work, though commuting is easy with both the M1 and M18 on the doorstep.

The historic village has two pubs, a post office, primary school, doctors' surgery, Co-op supermarket and a few other shops and small businesses. There is no public toilet, no hotel and there's hardly a yellow line to be seen. But it does have a reservoir, where I found most life on my visit to Harthill. The huge waterway, originally built to supply water to the nearby Chesterfield canal, is popular with anglers and home to Rotherham Sailing Club and its little brother, the Model Yacht Section.

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