The apple blossom’s appeared, the hour’s marched forward and summer is finally on its way. Whether your kids love to climb boulders or trees, play in the Peace Gardens fountains or paddle at Padley Gorge, summer is the time when Sheffield and the nearby Peak District become the best outdoor playground in the UK.
The statistics about our Outdoor City are well-known, but they’re also worth reminding ourselves of: Sheffield is home to more trees per person than any other city in Europe, a staggering 3,230 hectares of green space, and a third of it sits within the glorious Peak District National Park. That’s why Sheffield’s becoming known as the Outdoor City, and a leading destination for people seeking outdoor adventure, city culture and rural escapes.
If you’re lucky enough to live here, the city and just beyond is your oyster in the spring and summer months. We’ve put together a Top 6 family outdoor activities, especially for LINK readers. It’s our hope that it will give you some inspiration for something different to do outdoors with your little explorers now that the summer is here.
- Cool off in a city park
With no fewer than 730 green spaces within the city limits, Sheffield excels at parks. Come the summer, some of our local parks are transformed into mini water parks, beloved by kids keen to cool off. Try Millhouses Park in the south-west of the city on sunny days for a fantastic selection of water play equipment and a boating lake with row boats for hire. The Rivelin Valley in the north-west has paddling pools to offer, as well as water play equipment that are open from mid-July until early September.
- Try out a pushchair-friendly run route
If you’re a runner or regular park visitor, you might have noticed new run routes in some of the city’s parks. Designed to cater for all levels of runners, run routes are graded easy, medium, hard or challenging, and colour-coded accordingly. It’s the green routes which are most suitable for pushchairs or little legs, whether you’re after a family walk or a run with your baby in a buggy. We like the Graves Park green run route, which starts at the bottom Cobnar Road entrance in Woodseats, meanders through woodland, alongside a river, takes you past the duck ponds and finishes up at the animal farm, adventure playground and Rose Garden Café.
Or head up north to Concord Park and Woolley Wood near Shiregreen for a pushchair-friendly green route which takes you around ancient woodland, a mere two miles away from Meadowhall. Pick your visit carefully and you’ll see a carpet of bluebells as you walk.
- Spectator sport
Sheffield’s set for a summer of high-octane sporting events, which make for the most exciting kind of spectator sport. The British Mountaineering Council Championships were climbing giddy heights during the weekend of 7th – 9th July, during the Cliffhanger Festival. The Sheffield Grand Prix cycling road race steams back into town tonight and welcomes spectators to cheer on the pro road racers. Sheffield will also be proudly hosting the Special Olympics GB Games during 7th – 12th August.
- Picnic at historic Manor Lodge
Manor Lodge is best known as the scheduled ancient monument which imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots in picturesque captivity for 16 years. A lot has changed since Tudor times and these days, the 14-hectare site is home to an urban landscape that tells seven stories of Sheffield. Visit the discovery centre, follow the trails through wildflower meadows and enjoy the adventure playground.
Refuel at the popular Rhubarb Shed Café or pick a perfect spot for a picnic and enjoy the view. Be sure to check out the Lodge’s daily summer education programme, which features weekly-themed holiday activities, from history to nature and craft.
- Take the Norfolk Heritage Trail
Starting off at Manor Lodge, this new trail celebrates the fascinating history of the area just east of the city centre, once owned by the Dukes of Norfolk. Look out for the Norfolk Heritage Trail (NHT) signs along the route. The easy access version the trail begins at Manor Lodge, leads you to the impressive City Road Cemetery with its Grade II listed gatehouse, then sweeps downhill towards Norfolk Park. Pause awhile in Norfolk Park to enjoy the adventure playground and the café. If steps or tired little legs aren’t a problem, continue the trail to the Cholera Monument, Shrewsbury Hospital, Park Hill and beyond. Centuries of Sheffield’s history are contained in each step you take.
- Splash in the river at Padley Gorge
No Sheffield summer is complete without a venture just outside of the city limits to the simply delightful Padley Gorge. Located off the B6521 road to Grindleford (a left turn after the Fox House junction and pub), look out for the row of parked cars on a sunny day. A short walk over the moors takes you to Burbage Brook where you can paddle safely with your kids in idyllic surroundings. Grab an ice-cream from the ever-present ice cream van parked up on the road when you’ve had your fill, or pop into the nearby National Trust-run Longshaw Estate for a pit-stop in their welcoming café.
The Outdoor City is managed by Welcome to Sheffield and Our Favourite Places: Sheffield Culture Guide. Visit theoutdoorcity.co.uk for more information about what’s on outdoors this summer.
Joanne Mateer, Website co-ordinator, The Outdoor City
Sheffield in summer: the outdoor playground originally appeared in issue 171 of LINK magazine.
If you have something to share about life in Sheffield or some pearls of wisdom of interest to parents and carers of small children and would like to write an article for the magazine or or blog for the website, email firstname.lastname@example.org submit it here.