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Historic gems on the Dissenters' Paradise path

Sheffield Botanical Gardens. Photo by Will Roberts.

Looking for an inner-city walk you can take at any time of the year? This trail will take you through the south-west of the city and you'll see historic gems you might have passed by before in a completely new light.

Back in the 1830s, there was a wave of philanthropic activity in Sheffield's leafy Porter Valley, as newly wealthy industrialists sought to make their mark on their rapidly expanding city. Outside the conservative, Anglican land-owning Establishment, these nonconformists were cementing their positions in society.

Created by the Hunter Archaeological Society, the so-called Dissenters' Paradise trail follows in the footsteps of these nonconformist philanthropists of Sheffield's past – people like the radical poet James Montgomery, like local snuff manufacturers the Wilson family who sold land to help create many of the area's best loved features. It'll lead you to the Botanical Gardens, where it's worth taking some time out with the many delights within: a riddle trail, magnificent pavilions, a former bear pit where a friendly bronze bear now awaits hugs from all the family. It'll take you to the historic and spectacular hidden gem that is the General Cemetery, with its catacombs, its chapels, its winding paths. It'll show you an impressive neoclassical school, and a snuff mill with a history dating back to the 17th century.

The trail begins at the junction of Clarkehouse Road and Glossop Road, and ends on Ecclesall Road, a popular student spot with plenty of cafes, restaurants and independent shops. Stop off for a pre or post-walk refreshments at craft beer specialists The Beer Engine, The Beer House or the Scandi-inspired Brocco Kitchen.

Download the full trail



Start: Junction of Clarkehouse Road and Glossop Road, S10 2LA.
Distance: 1.9 miles / 3.2km.
Public transport: Take the 120 bus from the city centre to the start point, and the 81, 82 or 83 back from the end point to the centre.
Access: The first part (including the Botanical Gardens) is easily accessible to those with mobility aids. Frog Walk is pot holed. The cemetery ground is rough and uneven away from the main path, which can become slippery when wet.
Route map: Full guide to the trail (PDF).
GPX export.
Where to eat & drink: Enjoy a picnic in the Botanical Gardens, or afternoon tea at its Curator's House cafe.
Tuck in to a meal at one of Ecclesall Road's many great restaurants – from Indian fare at Ashoka to fried chicken at Lucky Fox.

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