I have picked a walk which is a favourite walk and is a popular one with most walkers. It is known as “The Five Churches Walk” and is a beautiful ten mile circular route. The walk is along ancient footpaths and bridleways which have been used by local people and visitors alike. Stepping in their footsteps you will visit the picturesque villages of Wales, Harthill, Thorpe Salvin, South Anston and Todwick, and be able to appreciate some of Rotherham’s finest church architecture. If ten miles is too far for you, you can split it in two by using The Cuckoo Way along the Canal from Thorpe Salvin via Kiveton Park to Coalpit Lane between Wales and Harthill.
The route is a circular one and can be started at any point near to the churches. If travelling by car please consider the local people when parking. The walk will take roughly five to six hours. Don’t forget to dress accordingly for the weather and wear sturdy shoes. There is a pub in all the villages for refreshments and comfort stops. There are waymarkers every so often to help guide you. A useful map to have with you is The Explorer 279 or a similar one for that area.
1. From Todwick Church turn right at the church car park and follow the lane with the children’s playground on your right. When you reach the end of the lane turn right and follow the wall untill you reach South Anston. This wall was the boundry of the 600-acre Kiveton Park Estate, the Duke of Leeds’ home in the late 17th century. At the end of the lane turn left and walk 100 yards, carefully crossing the road, onto High Street. Go through the Lynchgate and up the hill through the churchyard to St James Church,South Anston.
2. Walk up the path towards the back of the churchyard, go between the houses, and turn left onto Hillcrest Drive. After leaving the estate, turn right onto a bridleway between a field and the back of a row of houses. Walk across the field and down to The Chesterfield Canal. This is the point where you can shorten the walk. If you like you can turn right along the canal to Kiveton Park and follow the canal past the tunnel entrance onto the Cuckoo Way and pick up the path to Wales which is to the right along the canal path. Beware of the railway as you cross to the canal and go over the bridge.
3. To complete the full walk carry on up the hill. At the top of the hill pause and look back at the view. Turn left onto Lady Field Road and into Thorpe Salvin. On your left is the ruins of Thorpe Salvin Hall which is privately owned (not open to the public). Follow the road round to the village pump, and cross the road to the east gate of the churchyard and St Peter’s Church.Leave the churchyard by the main gate. Here if you want a comfort stop and refreshment turn left up the road to The Parish Oven pub. The route of the walk is to the right up Harthill Road, taking care as there is no footpath. At the end of the hedgerow on your left, bear left onto the path going diagonally across the field
towards Loscar Wood.
4. Climb a couple of stone steps and walk along the edge of the wood. Staying on the path turn left up Packman lane. At the end of the path cross the road and go over the stile into the field opposite. Turn right and follow the path round the field edge, crossing stiles to Crow Wood. Follow the path through the woods and along the edges of fields towards Harthill. After the last stile, cross the road and follow the stone path opposite. Take care going down the stone steps. When you reach the main road turn right to All Hallows Church.
5. As you walk through the village you will pass the memorial dedicated to local people killed during the Great War. After visiting the church turn right and carry on down Hard Lane. As you reach the end of the village turn left through a stone wall onto a path between a fenced field and hedgerow. Cross the stone bridge across a stream, and carry on uphill along the bridleway. Turn right onto Walsaker Lane. Follow this, and then a surfaced track (Coalpit Lane) into Wales.
6. Walk up the hill through thefarmyard past the cemetery on your left. Follow Church street to the Church of St John the Baptist on your right. When you leave the churchyard turn right and walk down Church Street. At the main road cross very carefully, and take the path down the right hand side of the Lord Conyers’s puplic house. Walk down Manor Road, and turn right onto Storth Lane.
7. At the end of Storth Lane, turn left past Wales Comprehensive School on your right. After the railway bridge cross the stile on your right into a field. Head across the field towards Todwick, and the nearest house on the horizon. Cross the stile and walk up Mill fields. At the top turn left, then right onto Mill Hills. At the main road cross very carefully. Turn right and almost straight left onto a footpath into the churchyard and back to your starting point.
I hope you enjoy the walk and it gives you an appetite to explore more of the lovely countryside which surrounds Rotherham and discover more of the historic and natural heritage which surrounds us. By getting out and walking, we keep fit and healthy. At the same time we keep our footpaths open for future generations.