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24 September 2014
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Tree in Graves Park
Hello grass, hello tree

Greenery, tennis courts, cafes and picnic spots - South Yorkshire's parks are some of the best in the country.

Rory Dollard packed some sandwiches and his thermos and went to explore...


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Rory Dollard by BBC South Yorkshire
contributor Rory Dollard

The summer is here, mad dogs and pasty Englishmen are heading for the midday sun - and what better place to find it than one of Sheffield's very own parks?

An afternoon in the park is as essential to an English summer as 'unseasonal rain' and ill-advised shorts teamed with milky-white legs.

For the unbeatable price of absolutely nothing, one can enjoy the rays, the views and, most importantly, the fact that other people may be working.

So here's an introduction to three of Sheffield's best parks.

Endcliffe Park

This is undeniably the unofficial sporting home of the Steel City greenbelt.

While some parks can only boast a half-hearted game of 3 and in with a cheap plastic ball, Endcliffe is certainly for those who want to make the most of the weather.

Endcliffe Park
Having a ball in Endcliffe Park!

There always seem to be at least three fully fledged but unofficial sixteen-a-side football games going on, alongside the other summery pursuits of Frisbee throwing and cricket played with £2.99 junior sets.

This is not merely for the active park-goer though - it's an equally rewarding pastime watching these games unfolding.

A sharp eye will usually yield at least two of the following characters -

1) The sickeningly talented 10 year old with a David Beckham haircut

2) The competitive Dad

3) The once sickeningly talented student who is now trying to work off a beer belly while playing with a can of Carling in his hand.

If you are one of the above or if amateur (and unwanted) refereeing is your thing then Endcliffe is the place for you.

FOR: Players, spectators, anyone with a piece of sporting equipment that can be used outside
BRING: Shorts, trainers and a battery operated CD player - everybody will thank you!

Weston Park

This is the park for the leisurely walkers amongst us. It has the Mappin art gallery and the City Museum in its grounds and these impressive buildings could provide the perfect focal point for those who find the higher things in life more desirable than practising free kicks or cover drives.

Weston Park
Weston Park: Easy on the eye

The park itself is also rather classy. No muddy goalmouths or roughshod greenery here, instead there are beautifully maintained flower arrangements and a series of statues and monuments (including an understated war memorial).

The perfect setting for a romantic stroll or a family trip (kids with a love for questions, facts or big stuffed animals will devour the museum).

FOR: Those who like their parks to be easy on the eye
BRING: A camera

Graves Park

Graves is a little out of the city centre but is worth the trip for those interested in playing a little mini golf, trying their hand at bowls or even attempting a spot of orienteering.

The park is situated just a couple of yards off the main road but once you are there you are immediately in its thrall. It covers much more ground than the other parks in the area and as such is much more visually entertaining.

Woody path in Graves Park
Explore Graves Park - the biggest of the Sheffield parks

On top of the usual welcome expanses of greenery there are also a couple of wilder areas in Graves Park and a woodland area with a number of little streams, bridges and other such fairytale garnishes.

There are a number of activities to partake in too, from the well-kept mini golf course to a hedge-bordered bowling green.

This is the best venue for those who wish to make a visit to the park more of an activity in itself as opposed to a piece of scenery to eat ice cream in. The Graves Park animal farm is also nearby.

FOR: Those who have a few hours on their hands
BRING: A couple of quid and a car full of eager kids

the lowdown
Opening times are available from your local council.
Parks across South Yorkshire.
Map of Sheffield parks and open spaces

How much?
Free. Some activities may carry a small charge.

Getting there
Regular buses and trams - see the SYPTE website for more information
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Got a favourite activity or pastime that costs less than a tenner? Tell us about it!

Your views

M.P. Mackintosh writes:
In Endcliffe Park, there is a walk up to the ponts further up the park, inhabited by several species of Ducks, Geese and swans. When you reach the opposite end of the park, you just need to cross a road to find yet another park (forgotten what itis called).

This park is beautifully laden with flowerbed either side of the walkway. Walking further brings you to a woodland walk which is often frequented by Walkers, joggers and cyclists.

If you continue walking for approximately 30 min, crossing only 2 or 3 roads, you come to a woody park known as Forge-Dam. This is a wooded park wich a play area for the kids (including a relly long Slide, swings etc.) and a Cafe for the aduls which makes you feel you've traveled back through time to the 1940's with it's painted wooden panneling, old coffee boiler and the style of customer service.

Well worth making an afternoon out and costs very little.

One comment though, if you reach Forge-Dam, be prepared to walk back, or a possible 30min wait for a bus back to town.

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