Sheffield canal walk
Explore Sheffield's rich steel heritage and contemporary art trails on this 4.4km walk along the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal.
Over 60,000 people came to see this canal open in 1819. Happily there are less people here today as the canal leads you quietly from city to country. Each step you take brings calm as you steep yourself in stories from the artwork along the water, while birds call you onward beyond the faint noise of traffic. Wildlife and greenery line the towpath and evidence of this area’s rich steel heritage is everywhere along the canal side.
Canal: Sheffield & Tinsley Canal
Start: Victoria Quays OS Grid ref: SK360876 Postcode: S2 5SY
Finish: Tinsley Marina OS Grid ref: SK393898 Postcode: S9 2FN
Distance: 4.4km / 2¾ miles
Start: Victoria Quays marks the start of the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal. Restored terraces of coal merchant offices, and 19th-century warehouses which once received cargo such as grain and coal, are a reminder of the canal’s busy heyday. As you amble round the water and boats, look out for historic clues such as railway coal arches, the weighbridge, and loading bays beneath the grain warehouse where grain could be unloaded from boats under cover before being sent onward to breweries and mills. The ‘Dorothy Pax’ pub is named after the last surviving Sheffield Keel Boat, barges unique to the Sheffield to navigate its smaller lock gates.
1. Built around 1900, the magnificent Grade II-listed Straddle Warehouse with its five docking bays spans the canal basin on stilts. It is potentially one of the last purpose-built warehouses for a narrow canal.
2. Cross the bridge near the 200-year-old dry dock and turn left to follow the towpath. The route is part of a street art trail begun during the Sheffield & Tinsley 200th anniversary celebrations in 2019. Across the water is Sheaf Quay, built in the 1820s, former toolmaking Sheaf Works of Greaves and Sons. They were the first large scale integrated tool and cutlery makers to operate using steam power and used the canal to transport raw materials in and finished goods out. Look out for nature-inspired artworks along the towpath.
3. Just beyond the busy A61 bridge and Victoria Railway Viaduct, there’s a boatyard and marina opposite. Sipelia Works to your right was another part of Sheaf Works and now houses the charity Emmaus.
4. Grade II-listed Cadman Street Bridge dates from 1819 and is one of only two original bridges on the Sheffield & Tinsley. Deep grooves were worn in the stone by the ropes of working horses towing canal boats. More artwork is displayed beneath the nearby railway bridges.
5. Across the water is a derelict former bone mill which once created cutlery handles from bone. Nearby Firth’s 19th-century Grade II-listed iron warehouse with its bricked-up loading bays used to store bar iron and is the last surviving example of its type in Sheffield. Your surroundings become leafier now as the canal continues through Sheffield’s industrial outskirts.
6. Bacon Lane Bridge is the other original 1819 bridge and also Grade II-listed. It was known as ‘Needle’s eye’ due to the difficulty of boating through its narrow arch – some boats even had to use a crowbar to get through! It may also be recognisable by fans of ‘The Full Monty’ which was filmed here. Just beyond the bridge is the largest instalment of Sheffield’s Street Art Trail on your right, painted by 13 street artists during the 2019 Sheffield Waterfront Festival.
7. The dynamic high-arched Supertram Footbridge 7B is quickly followed by Shirland Lane Bridge and footbridge before the canal widens at Chippingham Basin.
8. Grade II-listed Attercliffe Aqueduct carries the canal over Darnall Road. It was considered quite a feat of engineering in 1819, and you can head down to the road to see it from a different perspective. You feel like you’re in the countryside here, with trees overhanging the towpath and birds singing as you pass the wide open space of Attercliffe Moorings opposite, part of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.
9. At Greenland Bridge, cross the canal to follow the towpath along the canal’s tree-lined north edge under the A6102.
End: Your walk ends just beyond the Top Lock of the 11 Tinsley Locks at the open space of Tinsley Marina. Take time to relax by the water, explore more of the locks and the Pump House ahead, hop on a tram, or walk back to Victoria Quays to see the water from a different viewpoint.