DARNALL 21 THINGS
21 things to do in Darnall features places that you can enjoy and things you can do right on your doorstep - from local walks and places to visit, to interesting things to see and do.
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High Hazels Park has more than 20-hectare of parkland where you can connect with nature
Davy's Sporting Club is a community sports and social club which offers a wide range of facilities
Darnall has independent shops galore stocking everything you need from groceries to fashion.
Explore the Trans Pennine Trail which goes straight through Darnall
Darnall Family Centre supports children under five and their families
Darnall Forum offers a wide range of services to support the local community
DARNALL 21 THINGS GALLERY
‘21 Things To Do in Darnall’ highlights 21 places and things local residents and visitors can enjoy on their doorstep. The project features videos, photos and stories that we hope will inspire you to discover and explore Darnall.
Jean Pickering, who was born and raised in Attercliffe, volunteers with Darnall Well Being, a not-for-profit organisation offering activities and 1 to 1 support for the people of Darnall, Tinsley and neighbouring areas, in addition to delivering local health campaigns and events. After suffering a mini-stroke a number of years ago, Jean joined the walking group through the Chairman of the organisation’s encouragement. She soon made lots of new friends, who she refers to as ‘a second part of [her] family’, and was able to keep herself and others fit following her completion of a walk leader course that enabled her to host walks herself. She also joined their craft club, enjoying activities such as knitting, crocheting and making cards. The groups gave her a place to spend time following her retirement.
Jean has nominated High Hazels Park, her local park in Darnall, as one of the ‘21 things’. The park, which has a sensory garden, holds a very special place in Jean’s heart: after losing her partner to COVID-19, Jean planted a tree in memory of him in the garden. When the weather is nice, Jean can take a picnic to the garden and sit on the bench behind the tree to be with her husband, whose ashes are planted under the tree. Two weeks after it was planted, the tree had blossomed, which Jean says represents that ‘His ashes must have fed the tree.’
The park is a place filled with lovely memories for Jean. As a child, she used to ‘roly-poly’ down the hills; ‘I look at it now and think, I used to spend all my childhood in here.’
Jean aims to visit the garden every fortnight; her son takes her up in her wheelchair to her husband’s tree. She recently took her granddaughter and stepdaughter to the tree, so her family knows where they can find the tree and sit with Jean’s husband.
The park is not only a special and memorable place for Jean herself, however, as it is a wonderful environment for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Jean describes it as ‘beautiful’ and a ‘lovely place’, highlighting the wide-open spaces, benches, cricket pitch, children’s playground and cafe as just some of the assets the park has. Jean’s husband’s tree is planted at the first hole for the golf club: ‘My son plays golf there sometimes, and he says ‘If I have a bad take off at hole one, I’ll blame Dad.’’
Another place Jean recommends local residents and visitors spend some time in is Bowden Housteads Woods, which can be found at the back of the park. Before the airport was replaced by an industrial estate, Jean reflects on how you could go to the top of the hill and see the planes taking off. The woods are still a lovely place to visit, and Jean says you can see robins in the summertime and squirrels in the winter. Both the park and the woods are beautiful green spaces in the local area for when one wants to go for a walk and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, which Jean agrees is appreciated after over a year in and out of lockdowns due to the pandemic.
Darnall Allotment Project
Having an environmental and conservation background, Sarah started volunteering on an allotment twelve years ago, where she now works. Now a volunteer at the Darnall Allotment, Sarah has nominated the Allotment as one of the ‘21 things.’
Situated on the Infield Lane Allotment site, the Darnall Allotment has been running for around fifteen years. Sarah’s work with the Darnall allotment began three years ago, when, after a period of neglect, the Allotment was downsized, though Sarah reassures that ‘it is still huge.’ Her work involves educating people about gardening and growing food and encouraging others to volunteer and get involved.
The allotment’s polytunnel allows the gardeners to grow produce throughout the winter and the summer, including tomatoes and aubergines. There are also a series of raised beds, making it an accessible environment for people with limited mobility. The Allotment also has a compost toilet, and what the volunteers call ‘the classroom’, which is ‘a lovely room with lots of windows around it’ that can be used for activities.
Volunteers, who are vital for keeping the project alive, run the Allotment. Sarah says it is ‘a lot of work if it’s just me. Through lockdown, I was there on my own a lot, and it’s so nice to have people back; it brings it to life and you can get loads done if you get a team of people.’
The volunteers host sessions every Friday (10am-1pm) for anyone and everyone who is interested in coming along, regardless of experience. Sarah says the visitors can do ‘as little or as much as they want, there’s no pressure. Everybody’s role is really valuable, so if people want to come and have a chat, or make tea, that’s really valuable.’ The Allotment also hosts a Dementia Group, which has been running less regularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic but remains active in a remote capacity. Sarah hopes the group will start running again soon.
Volunteering at the Allotment offers opportunities to get involved in lots of jobs: ‘You can get stuck into something really physical, or you can do something sitting down, there’s lots of different aspects to it. And it’s just so good to be outdoors, I think it’s just really beneficial, and even if the weather is a bit rubbish, sometimes it’s just so good to get out there and do something.’
The Allotment is a special place for the Darnall Community, as Sarah reflects that it is ‘a great way to get to know people. At the moment we’ve got a really international group of all different nationalities, which is really nice.’
As well as from a community point of view, the Allotment is perfect for aspiring gardeners. ‘If anyone has got any interest in growing food, it’s such a great way to learn, as taking an allotment on yourself or even doing your own garden can be really daunting, so it's such a lovely way to just have a go and there’s no pressure.’ The Allotment itself is also a very interesting place, as ‘lots of people have animals up there, so there’s often goats wandering around, so that’s really nice.’
Gardening itself has significant benefits for our mental and physical health and makes for a therapeutic experience. ‘I think there’s something about actually getting your hands in the soil,’ says Sarah. ‘You can just feel it - the [allotment] that I volunteered on felt like it kept me sane really. It’s just a beautiful place to go and there's just something about being outdoors, tending to plants, it's just very earthing and calming.’
Another place Sarah recommends local residents and visitors spend some time in and enjoy is the community Allotment on Lewes Road, which hosts a session on a Wednesday. She also recommends High Hazels Park, as well as the Darnall Cemetery, which is a ‘really nice spot.’
For any aspiring volunteers who would like to get involved with the Allotment, Sarah encourages you to visit the Darnall Allotment Facebook and Instagram Page, or you can fill out their online form. Alternatively, interested volunteers can phone or email Sarah directly.