Sunday, 19 April 2015

Made in Sheffield: Ecclesall Woods and the Abbeydale Miniature Railway

Last Sunday was lovely and sunny so we packed a picnic and headed to the south west of the city.  The boys were pretty excited as it was our first visit to the Abbeydale Miniature Railway, something I had heard people mention but never actually got to ourselves.

We packed a picnic and headed out to catch the bus.  From the bus stop you'd never know the railway was there (well apart from the yellow sign) as it's headed inside Ecclesall Woods, another area that in almost 10 years of living in Sheffield we had never been too.

The woods themselves are beautiful, covering 140 hectares, like other woodland in Sheffield there is plenty of Wildlife as well as archaeological features.   There are over 15km of pathways, which we found out are also bridleways.  If you visit the council website  there are a selection of walks you can
download to avoid getting lost, these include an 'easy going' walks.  There is also a self-guided "Ecclesall Woods Archaeology Trail" leaflet which we are looking forward to doing at some point.  Unfortunately on this occasion the husband was with us and isn't really one for exploring for too long so we didn't get much time to actually explore the woods ... watch out for a follow up post :)

Ecclesall Woods is also part of the the route of the popular, 14 mile Sheffield Round Walk.  I am determined to do all of this (in sections) with the kids by the end of the year.

One thing that annoyed me in the woods, and I know others will have a very differing opinion (also I appreciate some dog owners are considerate), is the dogs that are off leads.  We sat on a bench for our picnic and had 4 different dogs come over to us sticking their noses in our faces.  Not one of the owners made an effort (other than pitiful 'come here') to get their pets.  They made no apologies to us either, laughing about their animal's friendliness.  NO dog owners - I have a 4yr old and a 6yr old who are trying to eat, I do not think it funny they have to be scared and we have to spend time trying to push your animals away to protect them.  If you cannot control your animals perhaps you don't deserve to have them.  I appreciate dogs need walking and yes they should be allowed an element of freedom but not at other peoples expense, I am sure you'd say something if my children came running all over your picnic.

I've just found out about a really fab event that's going to be happening in Ecclesall Woods on the 26th April 10-4, the Spring In The Woods event.  See poster below.  I'm really hoping for warm weather so we can go along.

Anyways, just after 1pm we headed back from our picnic spot to find the Abbeydale miniature railway.  Nestled just off the Abbeydale Road entrance to the woods it's like it's own little world.  Complete with many train tracks it has evolved as lot, I'm guessing, since it first took up home there in 1978.  The Sheffield and District Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Ltd were first established in the 1900's with only a handful of members, meeting at the YMCA on Fargate..... they now have their own clubhouse with a meeting room, kitchen, workshop, loco shed and carriage shed with around 100 members.

Weather permitting the members gather together to open to the public, on alternate Sunday afternoons and Bank Holiday Mondays throughout the summer months.  They aim to have at least one steam train running as well as their 'diseals' charging £1.50 a ticket.  We got 2 tickets each and the boys had a great time watching from the bridges and riding around the tracks spotting the hidden 'wildlife'.
   The event seems a little disorganised and we had to guess where to go for different trains and how to/ where to queue.  But this isn't a major issue, after all it is volunteer run and easy to follow the crowds of people.  Once you've been once you'll know for next time.  Depending how many rides you buy you'll only be at the event 30min - an hour.  I would suggest taking a picnic, they do have room for this, have toilets and sell refreshments, if you want to stay longer.  Or do what we did and couple it with a visit to the woods for a great day out.

They are open again today, Sunday 19th April and then again 1-5pm on the following dates (weather permitting).  If in doubt it may be best to check with them before going.

Sunday 3rd, Monday 4th (Bank Holiday), Sunday 24th, Monday 25th  (Bank Holiday)

Sunday 7th, Sunday 21st

Sunday 5th (visiting Loco day & free entry to exhibition of members work), Sunday 19th

Sunday 2nd, Sunday 16th  (Teddy Bear’s Picnic - Fund Raising for Childrens' Hospital Charity), Sunday 30th, Monday 31st  (Bank Holiday)

Sunday 13th, Sunday 27th
Sunday 4th, Sunday 18th , Sunday  6th and Sunday  13th

December - Santa Specials, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m - limited tickets available.
Admission to the Santa Specials will be for ticket holders only (priced at £8 each).  They are on sale from Sunday 30th August until 18th October (or until sold out).

photo from official website

For more information, or for background history click the badge below.


  1. Hi interesting read,been once before denise x

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