17 August 2012


Following my last post - about Princess Anne's birthday - I was considering producing a new post that visitors would find doubly boring. For example, I might have devoted several paragraphs to the peeling of potatoes, the poetry of Alexander Pope, the history of lard, the early life of George W. Bush, how to raise guinea fowl or the travels and life habits of a carefully observed woodlouse called Patrick. That's the thing about being a blogger - within certain limits you can more or less publish what you want - and be damned!

Making boredom has its attractions and I am sorely tempted... but instead I will get back to one of my usual themes - hiking tours in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. Or are they boring too? I know Libby at least likes them and Shooting Parrots seethes with envy when he compares the brilliance of my photography to his more humble snapshots.

You may recall that on Sunday I marched from Sheffield city centre along the towpath of the old Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and then turned back to follow the Five Weirs walk back into town? Well, yesterday I returned to Tinsley by car and then continued the walk along the River Don to the fascinating town of Rotherham. Actually, it wasn't long before the Don was bypassed again by another old canal that runs parallel to the river but avoids its shoals and unpredictable waters - The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal (1751).
The weir at Jordan Dam on the River Don
Ickles Lock - South Yorkshire Navigation Canal
Non-boring Rotherham is home to some 250,000 souls - not all in the town itself but also in the estates and villages that make up the metropolitan district. It is very close to its big brother - Sheffield - which is twice its size. On the surface, Rotherham may seem like a sad kind of place. In the past it owed its prosperity to the production of steel and steel products and it has never wholly recovered from the butchery that the industry suffered in the early eighties. Having the vast Meadowhall shopping mall on its doorstep has also not helped commerce in the town centre.
Old Guest and Chrimes works with the New York Stadium behind
Painters at Rotherham Central
I saw the new Rotherham United football ground - called the New York Stadium and spotted teams of painters at the refurbished Rotherham Central railway station. I remember alighting there in 1966 from a Hull City football special train - before walking half a mile to the old ground at Milmoor. It was a dark and grimy, industrial town and even the old ground looked like a ramshackle steel factory. The town was once famous for the production of cannons - on Nelson's flagship "Victory" the majority of cannons were made in Rotherham. But that sunless Victorian afternoon they were blasted by a couple of Hull City cannonballs!
Tree and nice house on Clough Road, Rotherham
From the town centre, I headed across the fields to Wingfield and Kimberworth where social housing estates designed in the nineteen sixties still accommodate hundreds of socio-economically challenged families. Moving at the same pace, I walked a few yards behind a burly young man with i-pod earphones and orange shorts. At Kimberworth, as pre-arranged by mobile communication, he met a young woman with a little boy of four or five and from the few words I heard as I walked by I realised that the couple were separated and the happy  little boy was the product of their defunct relationship. This was his afternoon to be with "daddy".
At Grange Park golf course
I bought a can of Diet Coke from the Co-op in Kimberworth. What a rip-off at seventy five pence! And then I crossed Upper Wortley Road before cutting through Grange Park golf course and down under the M1 to Grange Mill Lane - which is much uglier than its name suggests - home to several dirty industrial enterprises. It runs parallel to the ever-humming M1 motorway before pointing you towards the temple of Babylon - Meadowhall where there are no meadows or halls - just glass and marble stores and the ringing of tills as hordes of circling worshippers pay homage to Mammon.
"The Royal Oak" on Grange Mill Lane


  1. Is the new addition at the Royal Oak for the smokers?

  2. SHOOTING PARROTS Ha! Ha! It's either to vent barbecue fumes or it has something to do with the crane manufacturer's yard next door.

  3. It's so strange to see green grass everywhere this time of year. I realize you've had a lot of rain, but your grass must be perennial, not annual? When the native grasses here are through for the season they go to seed, turn yellow, and the seeds won't sprout until it rains in the fall. At least I don't think they'd sprout this time of year. We don't really get rain in the summer. Anyway, it's lovely.

  4. I don't mean to come across as passive-aggressive, but I think I would prefer reading about the peeling of potatoes to your incessant walkabouts.

  5. Many times have I taken the train from Bristol to Hull (to college) and always changed at Sheffield but sometimes, I also had to change at Rotherham. And that, I'm afraid, is my only experience of the place. I like the photos, by the way.

  6. JENNY Perhaps you and Keith could book a holiday in Rotherham - staying at the Fernlea Hotel on Gerard Road website:- fernleahotel.net‎. It would certainly be a holiday to remember.


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