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Whiteley Woods - Upper

This is the section of valley from Armchair Bridge up to Carr Bridge, just above Forge Dam.


Walkers leave the formal pathways completely, entering a wooded area, the River flowing down its natural bed with rough paths on either side.

Alder, beech, oak, sycamore, ash, hawthorn and holly, make up this area of ancient woodland, providing habitats for a wide variety of invertebrates and shelter for owls, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers.

This area is alive with songbirds. Grey wagtails can be seen foraging along the valley floor and dippers perch characteristically on rocks midstream then dive into the water, walking against the currents in search of small invertebrates which abound in the river.

Wire Mill

On the left side of the river, steps or a steep path lead up to Wire Mill Dam. This used to be a popular location for anglers and model boat enthusiasts in the past.

In early spring you may hear your first chiff-chaff, followed by warblers, swallows and swifts. On the Dam itself can be seen coots, moorhens, mallards and mandarins and as summer arrives so do the waterlilies.

On the path beside the Dam is a memorial to Thomas Boulsover, the first owner of Wire Mill, who in the 18th century, invented Sheffield Plate.


The path upstream runs alongside a man-made channel or goit. This is the supply for Wire Mill Dam and takes water from the Porter just below Forge Dam, creating a high fall of water, sufficient to accommodate two wheels each 11 metres in diameter.

Wire Mill Dam

Secret Door

Before the road bridge at Forge Dam there are 3 tiers of gabions lining the far side of the River. They protect the bank when the River is in flood.

On your left as you reach the road is a 3-storey building in which workers lived and produced buttons made from Sheffield Plate.

If you take an immediate left turn on reaching the tarmac road and climb up Ivy Cottage Lane you will see on your right steps leading to a carved wooden door which bears the inscription….

‘Chestnut, Plane & Sycamore, who or what lies behind the door?’

This unusual feature hides a concrete support which stabilises the tree.

secret door


There are almost 50 nests in the rookery on the right just before the playground. The rooks can be seen in daytime out on fields high in the valley and return noisily to roost at night.

Some of Thomas Boulsover’s ancillary buildings still exist at Forge Dam although the Forge itself has gone. Here a large wheel drove two tilt hammers and a smaller wheel operated blowers for the furnaces. The popular Forge Dam café is housed in a structure which was once Sharrow Vale Wesleyan Reform Chapel.

On the Dam there is often a motionless grey heron amongst the reeds keeping watch on the duck families and throughout the year there may be an opportunity to spot a kingfisher or two.

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