Those of us who already live in Sheffield know it's one of Britain's best kept secrets. This page is written for anyone thinking of relocating here.
The Green City
As the excellent Welcome to Sheffield website points out Sheffield's long-standing moniker "The Steel City" does little to make the place sound the attractive haven for "knowledge workers" seeking a better work-life balance that it undoubtedly is.
Sheffield is a really great place to live. There is a huge amount of green space and the Western edges of the city border the Peak District National Park. In November 2021 a report conducted by the University of Southampton ranked Sheffield as the UK's greenest city. Green here means climate-friendly, but the report makes it clear that the large area of green spaces is a significant factor. In 2021 Sheffield was recognised by Tree Cities of the World for its urban forest management.
On this page we've curated a variety of websites and videos for you to explore. But perhaps a more immediate impression of why we like Sheffield can be formed by taking a walk out of MachineWorks' front door.
The MachineWorks' offices are located about 2.5km south west of the city centre, over the road from the peaceful and picturesque Botanical Gardens. The area is a leafy suburb with many parks and green spaces but don't let that fool you. With two major universities nearby the area is also home to around 60,000 students.
A five minute wander down through the gardens and you reach Ecclesall Road, one of the main arteries into the city, and a vibrant area of eclectic independent cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. Five minutes further up is Sharrow Vale, a favourite amongst the lifestyle copywriters of the various national broadsheets. The two are joined by Hickmott Road. where on one corner where you'll find one of the highest densities of independent traders anywhere in the UK, including a butchers, fishmongers, two bakers, a veg shop and a decent vintners. Just behind is Dyson Place offering al-fresco dining at a number of cool restaurants, and a bit further along past Front Runner, there's also a specialist deli next to an organic veg shop opposite an excellent off-license. Totter a hundred yards or so back towards Ecclesall Road and there's Nonnas, a lively Italian restaurant with quality food that's been open since 1996, still holding its own against the newer trend-setting bars packed full of socialites as the weekend kicks off.
Of course if malty-ale or hop-forward fizz is more your thing then your five minutes walk down from MachineWorks delivers you within spitting distance of three micro-pubs stocking everything the self-respecting hipster might need, and, in case not, there's also Craft n Berry, one of many specialist craft ale shops in the area. And there's no shortage of traditional pubs either, including two favourites on Sharrow Vale Road, The Lescar and The Porter Cottage. And after, perhaps a curry at "Dhansak Dan" Walker's favourite, Prithi Raj.
But if it's a green reset your brain needs after all those gnarly algorithms then walk five minutes up to the top of Ecclesall Road and you're in Endcliffe Park, the start of a continuous stretch of greenery that takes you up the Porter Valley, out of the city and into the Peak District National Park, where, if you keep heading West you'll cross fifty kilometres of open countryside and wild moorland until you hit the outskirts of Manchester. And the Porter is only one of several similar valleys on the West side of the city - Rivelin, Loxley and the Sheaf all providing lovely green walking, cycling and running opportunities from the edge of the city centre right into the heart of the Peak District. And please don't forget the delightful yet often overlooked countryside that surround the parts of the city that don't border their more famous cousin.
So that's a short description of the bit immediately downhill from the MachineWorks office. Five minutes walk uphill is the student suburb of Broomhill, and past that the trendy enclaves of Crookes and Walkley. And of course walk twenty minutes to the east and you're in the centre of one of the UK's ten biggest cities. And don't worry, if all this gentrification is too much for you, there are also plenty of places in Sheffield keeping it real. And we haven't even mentioned London Road yet.
The Outdoor City
The Outdoor City website is an excellent resource for those new to the area, but we thought we'd also highlight a few of our favourites.
For many in Sheffield's huge climbing community the easy accessiblity of the Peak District's gritstone edges gives new meaning to the phrase "work-life balance". They're nicely highlighted in the drone footage from this film by Belgian climber Siebe Vanhee which explores gritstone culture and history. And there's no shortage of indoor climbing and bouldering either - on a stormy winter's evening there's still the Works, Foundry, Depot, Hangar and Awesome Walls to explore.
If lonely wandering is more your thing then best to avoid Meadowhall, one of the UK's biggest shopping centres, and instead head the opposite direction into the interior of Bleaklow. On a busy Saturday afternoon I guarantee you'll see next to no-one for hours, which is somewhat surprising given the city's fantastic opportunities for hiking, off-road running, orienteering and mountain-biking. There's been an explosion of running clubs in Sheffield in recent years, but spare a thought for Dark Peak Fell Runners, founded in 1976, and their unofficial, always inadvertent, ethos of "excellence through misadventure", described in this excellent video with more inspiring footage of the Peak District ...
... "that freedom and joy of going out into the Peak District, with a bunch of friends generally, and just enjoying a run in some beautiful terrain, that's what it's really all about."
Another long-standing Sheffield running club, South Yorkshire Orienteers, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022 as the strongest orienteering club in the UK, thanks in particular to the success of the monthly Schools League, where several hundred primary and secondary kids race round local parks with a map and compass.
The city that gave birth to downhill World Champion Steve Peat is building lots of mountain bike trails. The vertical steeps of Wharncliffe where Peat learned his trade are now matched by easier trails in Grenoside, Parkwood Springs and Lady Cannings, all short drives from MachineWorks ... and there are of course numerous unofficial killer descents in the surrounding hills. If you're more XC-minded then set off from the front door of MachineWorks, head up Porter Clough and in half an hour of breathing hard you're in the Peak District. Head across the gnarly Houndkirk Road, through serene Longshaw and along the beautiful Froggat Edge, then back via Ramsley Moor, past the popular wild-swimming spot of Barbrook, across Blacka Moor, down through Totley and back through Ecclesall Woods ... two and a half hours of off-road burnup through some of England's best scenery right from your place of work: check out the Eastern Moors Partnership route map for ideas.
If that's not enough then Snowdonia, the Lake District, The North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales are all easy targets for a weekend away.
And of course road-cyclists, triathletes, paragliders and wild-swimmers don't fare too badly here either ... but we're running short of space.
Yes, we're aware culture incorporates more than real ale and craft beer, but we feel it necessary to mention our surprise when in 2016 the big brains at Sheffield Hallam University pronounced Sheffield as "the world's best beer city". But, with the range of beers now brewed by the twenty five local breweries, it often seems a quaint underestimate, as does one brewery for every 32,142 people ... when face to face with the huge choice on tap and keg in a crowded pub you'd be forgiven for thinking it can't be long before that statistic reaches parity.
Along with the major event venues you'd expect in a major city, Sheffield also hosts a range of festivals. No surprise then it has its own well-respected outdoor film festival and the hugely popular Tramlines music festival but it also hosts Off the Shelf, DocFest and a Festival of Debate.
So that's a somewhat one-sided view of the delights of Sheffield, but there is so much more. As well as climbers, runners and bikers the MachineWorks' team currently includes at least one cricketing maniac, a dedicated rugby coach, the UK's leading orc impersonator, a wannabee pirate complete with parrot ...
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