In the former steel town of Sheffield you stumble over the characteristic pubs and in the industrial district of Kelham Island monthly new bars and restaurants are opened. But what makes the city especially special is the adjacent Peak District National Park, where you can walk, climb and mountain bike endlessly.
Sheffield had a hard time in the 1990s. The steel industry moved to China and the British city was left empty-handed. We know that image of a run-down city from The Full Monty , the 1997 British comedy set in Sheffield, in which six unemployed metal workers opt for a new career as a male stripper.
Anyone who now walks through the city does not see posters of desperate comic acts, but modern student buildings and new-build projects between a few refurbished, but also quite a few dilapidated factory buildings. Sheffield is in the midst of a transformation, something that is particularly visible in the Kelham Island district.
Old factories in the Kelham Island neighborhood. Image © Kita van Slooten
From the not very beautiful center it is fifteen minutes by public transport or a half hour walk before you reach Kelham Island, once the beating heart of the steel industry. Traditionally, there are a number of traditional pubs here, because a little steel worker did enjoy a pint after a day of hard work, but since 2007 many new horekekjes have been added.
The singer of local metal band Bring Me the Horizon, for example, opened a vegan restaurant and bar, Temple of Fun , in an industrial building. Decorated with all kinds of nice corners and exuberantly decorated with religious images, this is a nice place to have lunch – try the Born again ribs, made from seitan – or have a drink. In the evening the tent is taken over by the nightlife.
Max chocolate maker in the Cutlery Works food hall. Image © Kita van Slooten
Around the corner you will find Cutlery Works , a former cutlery factory, which has had a cozy food hall since last year. Here too you can have better lunch than dinner, because the sky is blue in the evening.
The young chocolate maker Max, who has been making the award-winning Bullion craft chocolate since the age of seventeen, is not to be missed in the food hall. That started with manually breaking open chocolate beans with his mother’s rolling pin and then drying it in the garden with a hair dryer. Max now has professional equipment, but still the same enthusiasm. All his bars contain 70% cocoa from the best beans. The Haiti bar in particular is fantastic.
The football team of Sheffield FC in 1876.
Sheffield: the birthplace of football
In 1858, Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest sat together in a pub, writing down the rules of what is now the most popular sport in the world: football. The men had founded the very first football club the year before and official rules proved to be useful.
The so-called Sheffield Rules formed the basis for the current football and there is a lot of sacred ground for football fans to enter the city.There has even been a brief discussion of the first field from Sheffield FC to be declared a Unesco heritage site, but understandably little has ended up there, because there is not much more to see than a sports field on the former Olive Grove site in the Heeley district . Image © Sheffield FC
Then a visit to Hallam FC – the second oldest football club – is more interesting, since it has never moved since it was founded in 1860. At the Sandygate stadium you can see the oldest soccer field, which is still being used as such. The club does not play at a high level and for only 5 pounds you can play a match with it on Saturday.
Classic pub The Three Tuns. Image © Kita van Slooten
When you think of England, you think of pubs and in that area Sheffield has a lot to offer. In 2016, the city proclaimed itself ‘real ale capital of the world’. The first brewery was founded in 1857 and today 400 different beers are brewed in Sheffield.
Tasting all of these during a weekend away is of course impossible, but with the ale trail you can make a good start. The Fat Cat and Kelhalm Island Tavern , both with spacious beer garden, are institutes. The first weekend of the month – simultaneously with street food market Peddler – you can go directly to the brewers of Sheffield Brewery and Neepsend Brew Co (Saturday only).
The Beer Engine: ugly on the outside, beer paradise on the inside.
You can also wander from tap to tap outside of Kelham Island. Shakespearesis a classic, where slightly overweight British people are happily dropping at the bar. The pub has all kinds of cozy corners and rooms where you can drink both a traditional lager and a trendy milkshake IPA. Opposite is The Bar Stewards . A modern bar with friendly staff and an exciting changeover tap.Image © Kita van Slooten
A gem is The Three Tuns . The iconic building was once a wash house for nuns, now there is satisfied bubbling in a kitschy interior. Last but not least: The Beer Engine . The decrepit exterior promises little good, but inside it looks much better. The cozy pub is popular with students, has 17 taps with interesting beers and the food is better than you would expect.
Sheep block the road in Peak District. Image © Kita van Slooten
After such a beer-soaked evening you can use some fresh air. Peak District is a beautiful national park that covers more than 1440 square kilometers. From the city you can easily reach by public transport, but it is even more fun to explore the area by bicycle.
True North Adventures offers a City to Sky bike tour for £ 95 per person. (Site is under construction, you can book by e-mail.) On an e-mountain bike you leave from a city park towards the Peak District. After a short ride with a steep climb, you immediately have a beautiful view of Sheffield.
Off road mountain biking in the Peak District. Image © Kita van Slooten
But much more beautiful is the adventurous route that is cycled under the guidance of experienced and sympathetic guide Jaime. In the hilly area you cycle on unpaved paths from one vista to another.
The e-bike gives a boost to the parts where it is spicy. Feels just like cheating in the beginning, but after the umpteenth hill you are only happy with it.
After a pit stop in the pub it is on to the end point: Burbage rocks, a mecca for climbers of all levels, with yet again an endless view. The sheep who block the road with an uninterested gaze have long since been impressed. We do.
Also nice to do:
• Anyone taking the Kelhalm Island Food Tour at the start of their visit to Sheffield will then know exactly where all the cool places are and will no longer have to eat for the rest of the day.
• You will find nice shops, restaurants and micropubs on Ecclesal Road and Sharrow Vale Road , a few bus stops from the center.
• Fans of The Arctic Monkeys can go to Yellow Arch Studios , where the world famous band from Sheffield recorded their first album.
RTL Z – The Outdoor City
By Kita van Slooten