Sheffield’s nicknames – The Steel City and The Outdoor City – may seem worlds apart, but they are equally fitting for this thriving northern city.
Once upon a time, Sheffield was known as the workshop of the world. Its furnaces and forges churned out prized Sheffield steel, and rich, proud Victorian men of industry built the grand civic buildings, steelworks, pitheads and mines that still help characterise the city in the 21st century. Nowadays, many of these industrial sites have been transformed into museums and exhibition spaces, and Sheffield steel is more visible in the city’s steel-framed buildings. But it’s the city’s greenness that takes most visitors by surprise.
Gateway to the Peak District National Park
One third of Sheffield sits in the Peak District National Park, and the city boasts more than 200 parks, woodlands and gardens; in fact, it’s one of Europe’s greenest cities, making it popular with outdoor types.
Cyclists follow in the tyre tracks of professionals who crossed the Tour de France Grand Départ Stage 2 finish line here in 2014, as well as numerous specialist bike and mountain biking trails. Sheffield’s climbing is world renowned, and walkers, ramblers and fell-runners can head straight out of the city into a national park and countryside peppered with quintessentially English villages, such as Bradfield. It’s a unique urban offering.
One of the local highlights is Stanage Edge. Britain’s longest rocky outcrop is popular with walkers, mountain bikers, rock climbers … and literary types; it took a star turn in the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. From here, you can also see the 16th century North Lees Hall, Charlotte Brontë’s inspiration for her famous novel Jane Eyre.
Back in Sheffield city centre, many of the green spaces double up as venues for a lively programme of events and exhibitions, while the city is home to some of England’s best theatres. Touring West End shows take to the stage at The Lyceum, while the iconic Crucible offers audiences an intimate experience with cutting-edge in-house productions.
It’s almost impossible to visit Sheffield without paying homage to its industrial past. It’s fascinating. See it brought to life by the interactive displays at Kelham Island Museum, and watch craftsmen who still carry out their trade in the Little Mesters workshops.
The Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet takes visitors back to the 18th century with a walk through the superbly preserved cottages and workshops that forged iron here for over 500 years. The Millennium Gallery, meanwhile, brings you bang up to date with Sheffield’s relationship with steel. It houses around 13,000 items, including the world’s most extensive collection of Sheffield-made cutlery, as well as showcasing the skills of modern makers and manufacturers who work in Sheffield today.
Tour the city streets
To really get a taste of the city’s past, present and future, join a city walking tour through winding medieval streets, modern shopping centres, The Winter Gardens – the largest urban greenhouse in Europe – and the city’s twin cathedrals. You’ll also see some of the filming locations of The Full Monty; this Oscar-winning film firmly rooted in Sheffield is one of the highest grossing British films of all time.