Easily accessed via the M1, Rotherham and the Rother Valley area offers an outstanding choice of attractions. Take your pick from Rotherham's historic Minster and choice of Medieval and Victorian heritage town trails to a host of stunning country parks in this South Yorkshire area. Around Rotherham discover some of South Yorkshire's most attractive villages - nearby Wentworth being the most popular. Castles and abbey ruins are in the area, alongside cutting edge new family attractions such as the Magna Science Adventure Centre. Rotherham town centre's striking medieval perpendicular minster makes for a stunning centrepiece, and the town's appeal is further boasted by the River Don which skirts round the town centre. The Bistro Boat Company run narrowboat trips along the River Don. Tel. 0114 272 9266.
Rotherham Visitor Centre, 40 Bridgegate, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 1PQ. Tel. 01709 835904.
Set within the grounds of Rotherham's town centre Clifton Park, the award winning and recently extensively renovated Clifton Park Museum is particularly renowned for its collection of rare Rockingham fine pottery.
Heralding originally from Swinton South Yorkshire just north of Rotherham, Rockingham pottery was produced between 1745 and 1842. Its closure in 1842 essentially means that rare pieces of quality Rockingham are hard to find, so the extensive display of fine Rockingham Porcelain on display at the Clifton Park Museum is a real treat. The museum is also particularly good for children, with interactive displays including Victorian range and jungle playroom. See Rotherham's tourist information guide for details. Clifton Park Museum, Clifton Lane, Rotherham, S65 2AA. Tel. (01709) 336633.
One time coal mining town Rotherham with a history as market town stretching further back is seeing considerable regeneration. The largely pedestrianised town centre, with Medieval and Victorian Heritage trails taking in its many historic buildings, is a pleasure to stroll around. Town centre shopping facilities are extensive, with around 370 outlets consisting of independent, high street retail and quirky market stalls.
Rotherham and nearby villages and towns such as Rawmarsh offer a superb choice of markets. Themed Centenary Markets for Second hand clothes and antiques operate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. For details and map location see the Rotherham Tourist webguide. Don't miss Rotherham's superb weekly town centre street market on Effingham Street on Tuesdays.
Rotherham's 15th century medieval Minster is a striking perpendicular church and one of Yorkshire's most impressive Minsters alongside York and Beverley. The minster sits within central All Saints Square where you'll find an information stall.
A church is thought to have been on this site from 937AD. Rotherham is listed in the Domesday Book. Rotherham Minster's spire pushes up 180ft, with additional 7ft weathervane atop. Extensively renovated during the late 1800s, a highlight within the Minster is the 15th century Chancel stalls. Depictions of the common medieval Green Man face can be seen within some of the carvings.
Rotherham's medieval heritage tour continues. The Chapel of our Lady on the Bridge is a rare example of a medieval Bridge Chantry dating from 1483.
Rotherham town centre is crammed with a host of historic architecture from various periods. Download Medieval and Victorian Heritage trails in the town via Rotherham's Tourist webguide. Town centre maps and maps of the wider Rother Valley area are also available here.
The award winning Magna Science Adventure Centre is another top Yorkshire family attraction. Housed within a mammoth former steelworks, the Magna Centre consists of four large themed areas - earth, air, fire and water. A superb attraction for children who can whirl round in the gyroscopic chair, bungee jump, operate a mock JCB or harness the power of water and launch a rocket! Other highlights include the fire tornado and virtual fireball in the fire pavilion.
Magna Science Adventure Centre, Templeborough, Rotherham, South Yorkshire S60 1DX. Tel. 01709 720002. Open daily, directions and details via the Magna Centre's webguide right. The venue is also increasingly the site for pop concerts and more.
Within easy reach of Rotherham at North Anston sits the Tropical Butterfly House, plus Wildlife and Falconry Centre. Another top South Yorkshire family attraction, there's lots to occupy the kids here including the Tropical House, the Bird of Prey Centre, a baby animal nursery and pets corner and a fun nature trail. Exotic butterflies, Marmoset monkeys, African falcons, luminous tree frogs, squirrels and kestrels are all here. Also on-site sits a parrot aviary, outdoor eating and play area and an indoor play equipment and activity centre, garden area, wildlife ponds and a sand pit. A recipe for a fun packed educational family day out.
Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife & Falconry Centre, Hungerhill Farm, Woodsetts Road, North Anston, Near Sheffield S25 4EQ. Tel. 01909 569416. For details and directions see the Tropical Butterfly House webguide linked right.
You might not immediately associate Rotherham and South Yorkshire with rural idyllic scenes, but a visit to this largely rural area will surprise. Indeed the town plays host to the Rotherham Walking Festival annually over several days at the end of June into July. Numerous free guided walks are available around the Rotherham area during the walking festival. Just a short 5 minutes walk outside of Rotherham town centre sees you in Rotherham's own idyllic urban Clifton Park. Spread across 56 acres the park is home to the renowned Cliton Park Museum as well as a kids playground, bandstand, memorial garden, a huge bib beech tree. Officially opening to the public in the Victorian era (1891), the park is another appealing aspect of Rotherham town centre and is currently receiving much regeneration attention. Centrepiece is the museum, onetime home of the iron manufacturing family - the Owens. The house dates from 1783 and is home to an internationally renowned collection of Rockingham fine pottery.
The Rotherham area contains a fantastic choice of country parks. Just north of Rotherham (4 miles) sits Thrybergh Country Park, a haven for wildlife and a popular spot for fishing, walking or simply relaxing at the lakeside cafe. Birdwatching is popular in the park which is home to around 200 species of birds alongside 170 species of wildflowers and plants. The park is also the site of a large reservoir, popular with wintering waterfowl and gulls. Two bird hides are situated within the park. For more information on Thrybergh and Ulley Country Park checkout the Rotherham tourist webguide right. Thrybergh Country Park, Doncaster Road, Thrybergh, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Tel. 01709 850353.
It's hard to believe now that large chunks of the huge Rother Valley Country Park was once a top spot for open cast mining in the late 1970s. The last of the coal was extracted in 1981, after which considerable manmade effort went into creating the 4 main lakes and numerous habitats across this 300 acre stunning South Yorkshire Country Park. This is the park to head for if outdoor watersports feature heavily in your holiday itinerary. Sailing, windsurfing, rowing, pedal boats, rafting, canoeing and water skiing are all available on the lakes (see the Rother Valley Park's webguide right for details). Nethermoor lake and Northern lake are also hotspots for fishing. Also within the Park sits the Rother Valley Golf Centre (tel. 0114 2473000). Facilities include a clubhouse, floodlit driving range and golf shop. Rother Valley Country Park, Mansfield Road, Wales Bar, Sheffield S26 5PQ. Tel. 0114 247 1452.
The long 46 mile Chesterfield Canal winds up from Chesterfield via the Rother Valley Country Park just south of Rotherham towards Worksop. Canal towpath walking is available along much of this historic canal. Checkout the comprehensive Chesterfield Canal Trust's webguide right for details. The canal's main visitor centre is down at Tapton Lock in Chesterfield. If you are looking for a walking group to enjoy the local countryside with why not try the Dearne Valley Ramblers? Their walks take advantage of the Trans-Pennine Trail and other regenerated paths and trails in South East of Yorkshire. Walks are open to memebers and non-members, so everyone is welcome.
The remains of the C.1170 Cistercian Roche Abbey, battered and pillaged during the Dissolution, are situated just east of Rotherham, 1.5 miles beyond Maltby.
Thanks to 'Capability' Brown, the grounds around the abbey were landscaped and preserved in 1774. What there is of the remaining ruins is impressive. Much of the Gothic eastern end is still standing. Open from April to September, check the English Heritage webguide page for detailed directions. Roche Abbey, A634 Maltby, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. S66 8NW. Tel. 01709 812739.
Back in Rotherham town itself, Boston Castle and Parklands dating from 1776 and built as a shooting lodge within the grounds by Thomas the 3rd Earl of Effingham is another important historic landmark in the town. The park and lodge is located on an elevated hill above the town affording spectacular views of Rotherham and the surrounding countryside. Up here you'll see just how rural this area of South Yorkshire is. The 3rd Earl named his lodge Boston Castle in ode to his opposition to the British taxes on American colonists and the subsequent American War of Independence. The Earl refused to fight with the British against the colonists.
The surrounding parklands first opened as a public park in July 1876 (centenary year of the American War of Independence appropriately)with on-site cricket ground, bowling green and croquet lawn. The bowling green is still here, as are many of the original historic garden features including the Rose Garden, rock features and the Coronation Garden. Both Boston Castle and the Parklands are bidding for further funding to support more improvements. Find Boston Castle and Gardens via Boston Castle Grove from Rotherham, and checkout the Friends of Boston Castle webguide linked right for a detailed history.
Those of you after a fun filled May bank holiday weekend should buy tickets for the Wath Festival, held in Wath-Upon-Dearne at a number of different venues. From 27th April - 2nd May 2011 you can enjoy loads of great folk artists, many of which are local to the area. Between the concerts and sing alongs you can take part in some wonderful traditional activities, such as bun throwing! You can get tickets for the whole weekend or just one of the days, and there's camping available onsite.