An activist, campaigner, father, teacher, husband, enthusiast of poetry and history; Terry Howard’s love of walking is born from his passion for adventure and the limitless possibilities of the great outdoors.
Terry is prolific on the Sheffield walking scene. A founding member of the Sheffield Campaign for Access to Moorland group that formed in the early '80s, inspired by the 50th anniversary of the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, Terry – and indeed Sheffield – was hugely influential in the 2000 Right to Roam Law, which so many of us benefit from today.
Walking on average 4 miles a day, often exploring inner city routes, with longer treks out in the Peak on the weekend, what Terry, now 70, doesn’t know about Sheffield walks probably isn’t worth reporting. But it is the way he describes walking and his experience of the outdoors that is most fascinating. He doesn’t talk about the distance between A and B, he describes the emotion, the discovery and the wonder that each walk provokes.
Massively influenced by such people as Sheffield rambler and author G.H.B. Ward, who wrote the Clarion series of handbooks that used poetry alongside route maps, Terry has dedicated much of his life to educating others of the profound experience of walking.
What is it that Sheffield offers to walkers that has captured your heart for all these years?
You are never far away from a really excellent walk in Sheffield. There are limitless inner city walks full of historical landmarks, urban parkland and industrial heritage. We have the Peak District National Park within our city’s boundaries and this is something that really does make us unique. I was born on a council estate in the north of Sheffield and still we were just a short walk away from the beautiful woodlands of Grenoside and Ecclesfield. It was here, on these Sundays spent with my dad and brother, exploring our city, discovering nature, understanding the emotional connection one can make with the outdoors, that I fell in love with walking. With the thrill, the excitement and the anticipation that comes from walking somewhere new or in a different season or even time of day for the first time. To me walking will always be a voyage of discovery, and with everything Sheffield has to offer, those discoveries are boundless.
What is your earliest memory of walking?
My dad was a factory worker and every Sunday when he was off he would take my brother and I to Grenoside or Ecclesfield to explore. As we grew older, we’d go off on our own and aged 10 we joined the Woodcraft Folk, which fired my passion for the great outdoors.
Where is your favourite place to walk?
Walking is an emotional experience and it’s that that dictates the walk rather than the location or the route. I walked around Charnock last week. It’s an area of Sheffield that I hadn’t explored fully and it was an amazing, inspirational afternoon. The longest walk I’ve ever done was 40 miles; I started at 5am and finished at 9pm, covering all the high peaks in the Dark Peak. But I walk daily and tend to have two longer walks a week.
If I was recommending a family walk, I’d suggest Bradfield Valley, packed with experiences for the whole family. The terrain is so variable, with dams, woodlands, moorlands, old Norman forts, an ancient church with wooden gargoyles – really it would be a magical day out.
If I was thinking about a walk for the more experienced enthusiast then I’d suggest the Derwent Edge Circular walk. It’s about 12 miles and provides a different challenge, both physically and in turn emotionally.
What do you think makes Sheffield The Outdoor City?
Sheffield has a long legacy of campaigning for walkers. The great trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932 is often what people refer to when they talk about access, but there were access riots in Sheffield in the late 1700s and the Sheffield Campaign for Access to Moorland was key in lobbying for the Right to Roam law passed in 2000. So we have history, so to speak. But we also have the poetry. The heart. The places to lose yourself. The gems to discover. The hilltop views and rolling moorlands. We have it all, something for everyone.