I came to Sheffield knowing very little about the city besides the Arctic Monkeys, its two football teams and that its glorious history seemed to have revolved around steel production. I had actually been told by pretty much every Englishman that I had previously spoken to, that going to Sheffield would probably get me stabbed or robbed. I knew it was the deeds of the tabloids so of course, it didn’t stop me. Off to Sheffield I went!
I arrived very late at night after a trip that had taken me over 12 hours. The following morning I woke up and found that the city was ridiculously green, actually, Sheffield is supposedly one of the greenest cities in all of Europe. Sheffield is located in Yorkshire and the population of the city is approximately 560,000. While buses are relatively affordable in the UK, trains are not. I managed to get my train from London to Sheffield for £15 by booking through eastmidlandtrains.co.uk.. Buying at ticket at the station could easily have cost me about £80 and the buses increase your travel time by an hour or two, so booking in advance online is highly recommended.
What is there to do in and around Sheffield?
My first day was spent driving around the hills and countryside of Derbyshire. The place is called Peak District National Park and it took literally 5 minutes of driving and we were out in the green. The close proximity is one of the main reasons that tourists come to stay in Sheffield.
The Peak District National Park is pretty awesome. It’s England’s first national park and very accessible from the big cities of Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield which makes it mighty popular.
Ever heard of the award-winning beer Thornbridge beer? Well, it’s a relatively new brewery but is well represented on the lists of best British beers. It’s located on the grounds of Thornbridge Hall in the village of Bakewell. I learned that Bakewell was also the home of the “Bakewell Pudding” which seemed to be a very big deal in and around Bakewell with several shops claiming to be the original home of said pudding.
In the national park there are also a few castles. I went to visit Peveril Castle in Castleton in which, legend says, some evil lord had been residing. Castleton is at the foot of its own mini Lord of the Rings movie set, a road through hills known as Winnats Pass. I also went to visit the grand Chatsworth House which is a house of nobility which has been opened for the public. You may recognise it from such movies as Pride & Prejudice and The Duchess (both featuring Keira Knightley) amongst others.
Getting around can be a little tricky if you don’t have your own vehicle but public transport does exist and renting bicycles is also an option although not recommended if you’re not familiar with the hilly terrain.
More information about that on peakdistrict.gov.uk.
Other things to do in the City of Sheffield.
The other days were spent walking up and down the streets of Sheffield. A pretty nice walk would be from Division Street, a street known for its independent shops and boutiques, down to the Kelham Island’s old steel mill.
You’ll pass the City Hall, Sheffield Town Hall, the main square known as Fargate, the Sheffield Cathedral, heaps of shops and finally you end up at the Kelham Island Museum. The Museum encompasses Sheffield’s industrial history and has quite a few massive machines to watch. Entrance is £6 per person for non-concessions. Also, Kelham Island is actually a man-made island built over 900 years ago.
If you want to do some shopping then Meadowhall is the biggest shopping centre in Sheffield. It’s a trip from the city but you can get there by taking the tram from Cathedral tram stop and will cost around £4 for the return journey.
I went to this pretty awesome rock club called Corporation. It´s located on Milton Street and if alternative rock/metal/punk/indie is to your taste then Corporation has four big rooms of it. Worth mentioning that the average age is closer to 20 than what it is to 30. Very cheap alcohol with quad-vodka-energy being a popular choice.
Random Facts about Sheffield
An interesting story would be the one of the Park Hill residential area. Built in the late 60´s as a big housing project and situated at the foot of one of Sheffield’s seven hills, Park Hill is quite a sight. Needless to say, it’s a quite divided topic with some Sheffielders hating it whilst others think it’s a great sign of the city’s heritage. The funny thing about this story is that in the late 90’s Park Hill was added to a list of protected buildings making it impossible to demolish. However, a renovation project has started and from what I saw it is starting to look pretty cool.
The talk of the town during my visit was the recently launched documentary “A very British brothel“. It is filmed in a local massage parlor named “the City Sauna”. It follows a few days in the life of the brothel mum, her daughter, the brothel workers and a few of the delightful regulars. I’m sure that this isn’t at all representative of Sheffield as a city, but it’s a comical look into something that you certainly don’t come across every day. You can find it by searching youtube.
Overall the people of Sheffield were great to me, I know that I’ll be back again.