Norfolk Park is the city’s best-kept residential secret. On the hillside overlooking the city centre above Sheffield station you’ll find faded but still glorious early-Victorian mansions and elegant stone houses, just a stone’s throw from rolling green parkland and quiet woods. Part of Norfolk Park’s secretive charm is its ability to surprise – here, historical gems rub shoulders with boarded-up pubs and ailing 20th century housing experiments.
Luckily for the inquisitive, Norfolk Park comes complete with its own Heritage Trail, starting at Manor Lodge (open to the public on Sundays April to October) and taking in the most interesting bits of the area before leading on to Sheffield Cathedral. If you're keen to do the full 3-mile linear walk, follow the signposts and give yourself an hour or two. Otherwise, we recommend adapting it to this short loop near the railway station, ideal for if you have a train to catch.
1. Head for the tram stop at the rear of Sheffield station and on the skyline above you’ll see the much talked-about Park Hill flats. Head up through the landscaped amphitheatre to the Cholera Monument beyond (this is the point marked on the map in this article), from where you’ll be rewarded with an exceptional view of the city centre. Sheffield’s answer to Cleopatra’s Needle, this handsome pinnacle was erected in 1835 to commemorate the 402 victims of a cholera epidemic, buried here in a mass grave.
2. A short stroll through charming Clay Wood will take you almost to the gates of the park that gives the area its name: Norfolk Heritage Park. Sheffield’s first public park (and one of the oldest in the country) was reclaimed from scarred industrial land by local big cheese the Duke of Norfolk and opened to help clear the lungs of Sheffield’s workforce in 1848. Easy to miss, the nicest part of the park is Jervis Lum – a wooded ravine and haven for wildlife that has lain quietly undisturbed for hundreds of years, oblivious to the city that sprouted up around it.
3. Intrepid explorers will now forge on up the steep hillside above Norfolk Park in search of Sheffield’s most incongruous ruin, Manor Lodge. Built around 1516, the Lodge was once at the heart of a huge deer park and played host to a famous prisoner in the form of Mary Queen of Scots, and is well worth a visit when it's open.
4. From here, you have the added option of deviating from the official trail to go on to Skye Edge. Once a gathering place for would-be Chartist revolutionaries, and a century later the site of an illicit gambling ring that sparked Sheffield’s deadly gang wars, the Edge is now mostly frequented by dog-walkers and bored teenagers. But catch it on a sunny day and you’ll be amazed by flocks of homing pigeons as their fanciers train them above the allotments, and by the view for miles around – stretching from the distant purple hills of the Peak District, to the industrial heartland of the Don Valley beneath the Edge.
5. Whether from Skye Edge or Manor Lodge, retrace your steps back downhill to Park Hill and the station. You’ll pass through the pleasantly re-landscaped hillside known as Sheaf Valley Park. Between patches of grass you’ll find sturdily cobbled paths, the ghosts of streets once packed with slum housing in a neighbourhood dubbed Little Chicago in honour of its thriving criminality.
Written by Eric Hildrew
N is for Norfolk Park in our illustrated Sheffield Alphabet print – available in our online shop.
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