Monday, 30 July 2018

The Gleadless Valley

A Google map of the Gleadless Valley showing the Meers Brook

The spring of 2018 was very slow to get going but, having visited Brincliffe Edge quarries and the interior of the church of St. James the Great – both a stone’s throw away from the route of the Sheffield Round Walk – I decided to get out again and explore the Meers Brook, whose many tributaries have cut through the Grenoside Sandstone and the underlying Pennine Lower Coal Measures Formation rocks to form the Gleadless Valley

The geology around the Gleadless Valley

This steep sided valley is best known for its housing estate, which was built from 1955 -1962 and retains large areas of its original ancient woodland and, although I didn’t expect to find any spectacular geology or historic buildings, when I passed through it on my last visit to Norton I thought that it was well worth a visit. 

A view north across the Gleadless Valley

Various styles of housing were designed to suit the contours and the varied slopes, and these range from tower blocks on the edge of the valley, with chalet style and patio houses on the lower slopes – and the Holy Cross Church set in a highly prominent location. 

The Holy Cross Church

In places, the slopes have a gradient of 1 in 4 in places and, with numerous watercourses too, various challenges were presented to the city architect J. L. Womersley and, when wandering around the valley, several culverts and diversions of the natural waterways can be seen. 

A streamside section of siltstone

The tributaries of the Meers Brook have cut deep and narrow courses through predominantly Lower Coal Measures siltstone and shale and the streamside exposures of rock would probably yield fossils to the adventurous research geologist; however, none of these are easily accessible and I wouldn’t really consider the Gleadless Valley suitable for geology field trips. 

A streamside section of shale

That said, once I had continued walking to the old village of Heeley, I encountered a variety of late Georgian and Victorian historic buildings which provide good examples of what I presume to be quite local Pennine Lower Coal Measures Formation sandstone. 

Various historic sandstone buildings in Heeley

Although none of the buildings are particular spectacular, the churchyard of the Grade II Listed Christ Church contains a couple of interesting granite monuments – one a pink granite obelisk with and ornate plinth that commemorates the local steel manufacturer, John Shortridge, and another large ornate monument constructed in grey Aberdeen granite.

Granite memorials at Christ Church graveyard

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