Welcome to friends of Ecological Owlthorpe Nature Trail Summer

History of Ecological Owlthorpe

  What is the origin of the name Owthorpe?

Owthorpe appears in the 1086 Doomsday Book as Obetorp in the ancient hundred of Bingham. Its origin may be "Outlying farmstead or hamlet of a man called Úfi or Ufa ", i. e. an Old Scandinavian or Old English personal name plus the widespread Danelaw element "thorpe" meaning hamlet. Lord and tenant-in-chief was Geoffrey Alselin .

Owlthorpe sits between Mosborough and Hackenthorpe.

Comprising of woodland and farmland the area has been farmed for many years and still is. History shows one of the predominant industries was using charcoal to make sickles and scythes for use in the farming industry. There are still many examples of trees that are still alive today that have been coppiced for use in the making of sickles and scythes. Below is the wording of an advertisement showing the industrial past:

"Thomas Staniforth & Co, Main St. , Hackenthorpe. - From Mosborough to Hackenthorpe to the World. Manufacturers of Sickles, Reaping Hooks, Patent Sharpening Hooks. Scythes, Hay & Straw Knives of every description. "

 The Ochre Dyke

The Ochre Dyke gets it's name from the pollution of the water by yellow ochre (Iron Oxide) as a result of coal mining activity in the upper reaches of the valley. The area in and around Birley wood was extensively mined for coal and black-band iron ore from at least the medieval period up to the mid 20th century when Dent Main Colliery closed.

Dent Main Colliery https://www.mindat.org/loc-376953.html

There are a number of coal seams running under Owlthorpe: Sitwell Thin Coal, Sitwell, Rawmarsh and Silkstone. History shows that coal in Owlthorpe has been mined by a number of pits including the Birley group of pits.

One thing that both Moorhole and Dent Colliery have in common is that they are situated at the side of the Ochre Dyke; water had to be constantly pumped out of both when in operation. The Ochre Dyke has its header water in Birley Woods which stands 650ft above sea level. If you follow the path of the Ochre Dyke you will see it first passes through Dent Main Colliery then under Moor Valley and through the culvert opposite the garden centre GPS Coordinates: 53.33822,-1.385700 then past   Moorhole Colliery.  After the pits were closed in the late 1960s water was no longer pumped out. It is believed that both pits are in a permanent state of flooding with water pouring into the drains.

How Coal is formed

When dead plant matter decays into peat and  is converted into coal by the heat and pressure of deep burial over millions of years.[2] Vast deposits of coal originate in former wetlands—called coal forests—that covered much of the Earth's tropical land areas during the late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian) and Permiantimes. The coal deposits in Owlthorpe indicate that trees and vegetation have been present in this area for millions of years. I have had a look upstream in the Ochre Dyke and found some trees that have lived and died and are in a state of decay and are in the long process of biodegrading. It seems to me that the coal that runs under Owlthorpe was originally trees and vegetation which has washed under ground by the Ochre Dyke.

Moorhole Lane

At the top of Moorhole Lane there is a Bridle Stile that leads past the Grazing project. To the right, at the bottom of Moorhole Lane the bridleway runs up to Moor Valley . Unfortunately this part of the Bridleway is somewhat overgrown. Nearby there is an ancient Bridle Stile Standing aprox: 515ft above sea level GPS Co-ordinates 53.328617,-1.374355 There is an information board that states “This grass track is known as bridle stile, an ancient packhorse rout which connected Sheffield to London via High Lane. It is believed the earliest record of bridle stile is 1299. Today this path is a public bridleway.”

Moorhole Farm House

Moorhole Farm House was demolished 1984 approximately after John Pratt and his family moved to Spinkhill Farm. The 1881 Census shows the resident of Moorhole Farm as John Lee a farmer of 150 acres aged 39, his wife Sarah aged 30, his two sons George aged seven, Edwin aged four months and his daughter Rose aged two. He employed two labourers and a boy. Also living at the farm was Clars Rose aged 26. All of those named above are listed as being born in Eckington, Derby , England . Additionally living at the farm was John Easten an unmarried agricultural labourer aged 20 born in Hibaldstowe, Lincoln , England .

Blacksmiths Forge

At the turn of the century in 1894 there was a Blacksmiths Forge, Main Street , Hackenthorpe. It was situated inside a farmyard. In the 1894 directory the only blacksmith in Hackenthorpe belonged to William Price, in 1906 it is listed as the Oades Brothers. The blacksmith must have been kept busy with work from farms and the pit ponies that worked down the mines.

3 Way Stone Stile

The unique historic 3 way stone stile is situated at the top of the path just off Owlthorpe Lane aprox: 502ft above sea level. GPS Co-ordinates 53.33297,-1.37559. The stables where the pit ponies where kept was at the side of the 3 way stone stile.

Ecological Surveys

A number of biological surveys have been carried out over the years in Ecological Owlthorpe by the ecology department of Sheffield City Council to establish the levels of Fauna and Flora that exist there. These records of 843 species have been added to the Biological Records Centre RECORDER database.

Owlthorpe Meadows Invertebrate Survey - 2010  By Derek Whiteley

Owlthorpe Meadows Invertebrate Survey - 2011  By Derek Whiteley

Owlthorpe Meadows Invertebrate Survey - 2012  By Derek Whiteley

Our Oasis was constructed and completed in 2012 under the guidance of Natural England under their Higher Level Stewardship scheme, the boundary of our Oasis spreads from Moor Valley down to Moss Way and has been used and enjoyed by the community ever since. To see the extent of work carried out creating our oasis, zoom into the Interpretation boards.

The header waters of the Ochre Dyke are situated in Birley Woods. The photo above is take from the 15th hole on Birley Wood Golf Course, one of the highest points in the area, s tanding approx: 650ft above sea level GPS Co-ordinates 53.33975,-1.40247

The photo to the left shows how steep the tramway is that runs down past the side of the Golf Course.

Ecological Owlthorpe Editorial, Working with nature: Sheffield campaign calls for protection of upstream environments to stop downstreem flooding.

Felling trees is known to be a major factor in upstream waters, and in line with Government policy the Owlthorpe area should be protected, not only for the wildlife etc., but also to protect down stream flooding in the future.

This web-site sets out the reasons why Ecologicel Owlthorpe should be preserved as an upstream nature based solution thus protecting the environment.

National Tree Stratergy: https://parliamentlive.tv/


Evidence supplied to Planning Inspectorat supporting Ecological Owlthorpe as an upstream nature based solution protecting the environment from downstream flooding.

Please sign our petition https://chng.it/FPc7X4Nq Sheffield campaign calls for Nature-based solutions to tackle the climate emergency.


There are a number of organisations which can help with identification of flora and fauna that you may find in Ecological Owlthorpe.

Here are one or two web-sites you may find helpful.










Petition| Directions & Maps| ©2020 Ecological Owlthorpe E-Mail: ecologicalowlthorpe@gmail.com