Yorkshire's second city, SHEFFIELD remains inextricably linked with its steel industry, in particular the production of high-quality cutlery. As one of Britain's foremost centres of heavy and specialist engineering, the city suffered heavy bombing in World War II and then, following the steel industry's downturn in the 1980s, dispiriting decline. The subsequent revival has been rapid, with the centre utterly transformed by flagship architectural projects, from gardens to galleries.
The main symbol of the city's regeneration is the stunning Winter Gardens, an arched steel-and-wood glasshouse almost 200 feet long and over 60 feet high. Clubs and galleries exist alongside arts and media businesses in the revamped Cultural Industries Quarter, while spruced-up warehouses and cobbled towpaths line the canal basin at Victoria Quays and the Devonshire Quarter rates as the trendiest shopping area.
Steel, of course, still underpins much of what Sheffield is about: museum collections tend to specialize in the region's industrial heritage, which is complemented by the startling science-and-adventure exhibits at Magna built on a disused steel works at nearby Rotherham, the former coal and iron town a few miles northeast of the city.
Sheffield has a great deal to offer both locals and visitors. Not all of its activity is relegated to the city centre: some of the best restaurants and entertainments are situated in the lively central suburbs and on the roads which radiate out from the city centre, such as the fashionable Ecclesall and Abbeydale roads.
The most popular areas of the city centre include:
The Moor and Fargate
Much of the city centre's shopping is located in the pedestrian areas of The Moor and Fargate. The Moor's mixture of shops include department stores, discount shops and a permanent open air market, whilst Fargate boasts many high street fashion stores. Orchard Square and Chapel Walk have smaller specialist and independent outlets.
Both the City Hall music venue and the popular Cole Brothers' Department Store are located in Barker's Pool. To the rear of the store is Henry's Cafe Bar . The Sheffield branch of this national chain was one of the first in the country to be established and is still popular as a meeting place both during the day and in the evening.
West of Barker's Pool, along Division Street, is the well-known Devonshire Quarter. The Quarter is home to the alternative shopping centre, The Forum , and to many independent fashion, music and design shops, such as the independent shoe shop, Pseudo Podia and the record shop Noise Annoys .
A good selection of cafes and restaurants are available in this area, most of which are busy with business people and shoppers during the day and become even livelier at night. Among the most popular are the Forum Cafe , Bar Coast and Halcyon cafe-bars, the Havana Internet Cafe and Pizza Express restaurant.
West Street runs parallel to Division Street and is a popular drinking area, with many large theme pubs such as Flares and the Cavendish . This is also a good place to find something to eat.
Pinstone Street, between the Moor and Fargate is the location of the Town Hall and the newly developed Peace Gardens , with their spectacular fountain.
Just beyond the Town Hall is Tudor Square, which is the cultural heart of the city, surrounded by the Lyceum and Crucible Theatres, and Graves Art Gallery . The impressive Millennium Galleries , are just across the road in Surrey Street. Four galleries host major temporary exhibitions (some in conjunction with London's Tate Gallery), house the city's Ruskin collection, and provide a home for Sheffield's impressive metalware collection.
A small cluster of excellent eating and drinking establishments in this area include Mama and Leonie's pizzeria, the Olive Garden Cafe , and the Brown Bear pub. All make ideal pre- and post-theatre stops.
Cultural Industries Quarter
Across Arundel Gate is Sheffield Hallam University's large city centre campus, with its many new buildings. Below the campus is the Railway Station and the Bus Station. A short walk away, around Brown Street and Paternoster Row, is the Cultural Industries Quarter. This district is home to many industries involved in the media and other cultural areas. Here you will also find the Showroom Cinema , the Site Gallery and the National Centre for Popular Music . The famous Republic nightclub and the Leadmill night club and live music venue are also in this area, and the Globe pub is nearby.
Park Square Roundabout
The large Park Square roundabout is the location of the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre , which hosts many competitive swimming and diving events and also offers a leisure pool, fitness suite and sports halls.
Across the road you will see the big indoor Castle Market complex, so called because it was built on the site of the 12th century castle. It is still possible to view the original Castle Foundations .
Victoria Quays is a development around the canal basin. Warehouses have been refurbished into luxury apartments and new office developments overlook the moored boats, including the A Thirty Nine Restaurant boat and the luxurious Ruby hotel boat. The original arches are now occupied by unusual shops and restaurants. The popular Sheaf Quays Pub and Restaurant is also housed in one of the canal's original buildings.
Many of Sheffield's luxury hotels are to be found close by. The cluster includes the Sheffield Hilton , the Holiday Inn and the luxurious Novotol and Bristol hotels.
Sheffield may not be blessed with many beautiful historic buildings, but you are never far from reminders of its great industrial past. The Kelham Island Museum , which celebrates Sheffield's industrial heritage, is to be found on Alma Street. Next door are the Kelham Island Pub and Brewery. This is an up-and-coming district; Sheffield's first loft-style apartments were recently developed in the old Cornish Works.
The industrial Don Valley, to the north of the city centre, has seen many of its large steelworks disappear. In their place are new industrial and office developments and large leisure and shopping attractions.
The Don Valley Stadium and Hallam FM Arena are legacies of the World Student Games. The Stadium hosts athletics events and has fitness suites, which are available for public use, whilst the nearby Arena is home to the local ice hockey and basketball teams. Both are used as venues for large concerts.
This is also the location of the Entertainment complex of the UCG multi-screen cinema , restaurants, nightclubs and the Hollywood Bowl .
Meadowhall Shopping Centre
With 270 shops the prestigious Meadowhall indoor shopping centre, situated two miles north of the City Cente, hosts a large collection of major high street chains and department stores. Smaller independent stores and the Warner Village Cinema are located around the Oasis foodhall.
Sheffield Ski Village
Sheffield's Ski Village is visible from much of the city, on the hillside at Parkwood Springs. It is Europe's largest artificial ski resort and offers skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing.
Hillsborough is famous as the home of Sheffield Wednesday, one of the city's two football clubs (the other is Sheffield United whose Bramall Lane Ground is in the south of the city). This self-contained town within a city has a good shopping centre and other attractions, such as Hillsborough Leisure Centre and the Cupola Gallery .
The leafy residential suburbs to the south west of Sheffield are home to some of the city's finest restaurants and specialist shopping areas.
Ecclesall Road and Hunter's Bar
The tree-lined section of Ecclesall Road, running from just past the old Ward's brewery to Hunter's Bar roundabout, is known as Sheffield's "golden mile" of shopping for its mix of designer and specialty shops. There is also a good selection of bars, cafes and pubs, including Coffee Revolution, Nonnas Cafe and Restaurant , Champs Bar and Restaurant and the Porter Brook Pub .
Nearby Sharrow Vale Road has a similar mixture, including Cafe Ceres, the Mediterranean Restaurant and the Lescar Pub .
This is also the location of two of Sheffield's best-known green spaces; Endcliffe Park and the Botanical Gardens .
Abbeydale Road and Nether Edge
The leafy Victorian suburb of Nether Edge is home to many hotels: of particular note is the luxurious Swallow Hotel .
Abbeydale Road is known as the antique district of Sheffield; although it is slightly down at heel, it has an interesting mix of secondhand, antique and reproduction outlets.
Further out, on Abbeydale Road South, is the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet , Ecclesall Woods , and the adjoining Ladies Spring Wood.
Broomhill and Crookesmoor
Leaving the City Centre along Glossop Road and Western Bank, you come in to Crookesmoor, where the main hospital and Sheffield University (with its landmark Arts Tower ) are situated. The City Museum and Mappin Art Gallery are also here.
Continuing into Broomhill, you come across a good shopping centre, with independent and charity shops and pubs such as O'Neill's Irish Bar and the South Seas. This beautiful Victorian district has some good hotels such as the modern Posthouse .
Finally, the beautiful Peak District National Park lies immediately to the west and south west of the city. Continue through Broomhill along Glossop Road and the A57 for dramatic hills and moorland scenery, which gives way further south to high limestone country and wooded river dales. Outdoor activities, picturesque towns and villages, the historic houses of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall , and the Peak Cavern show caves at Castleton are amongst its many attractions.
In the last few years, partly because of the huge influx of students to the city, Sheffield's dining and drinking opportunities have grown beyond anyone's expectations, making it as good a place to spend an evening as almost any city in the country.
More than anything, the city has acquired more diversity and now has a genuinely cosmopolitan feel. The recent flood of cafe-bars that has swept Britain has not missed Sheffield out, but neither has it robbed the city of its array of traditional pubs. There are also new and exciting restaurants springing up all over the place, meaning that the eating place lurking around the next corner is as likely to be a Mediterranean tapas bar as a fish and chip shop.
By far the trendiest area in Sheffield, the Devonshire Quarter is close to the city centre and is the place to be seen in Sheffield, especially at the weekend. This is where the majority of the new cafe-bars are situated, most of which are quite relaxed during the day but come alive at night. Bar Coast (Division Street) is fairly typical, with sofas, bright colors and lots of stainless steel; there is also a full menu (prices are reasonable). Similarly, RSVP Bar and J.D.Wetherspoons (both Cambridge Street) provide freshly-prepared meals (around £5 for main courses) and attract mainly young professionals. The Forum Cafe (Division Street) has a real split personality: during the day it doubles up as an art gallery and is very sedate, but at night it has a genuine party atmosphere, with DJ's playing throughout the week. The Havana Internet Cafe is also worth a visit and last but not least, the Halcyon Bar (Devonshire Street) is possibly the coolest place to be seen in Sheffield, with minimalist decor, a late license (until 1 am) and the added lure of Absinthe.
If these bars seem a bit too trendy, however, there's always The Yorick (Division Street), a traditional pub which nevertheless gets very busy at weekends. Or, if you're looking for somewhere a bit different, you could do worse than The Walkabout Inn (Carver Street) which is an Australian-themed pub and includes a dance floor, a beer garden, karaoke and live music. Those with strong stomachs, however, should head straight for the Frog & Parrot (Division Street) which allegedly has the strongest beer in the world, aptly called "Roger and Out". The Devonshire Quarter also houses a number of popular restaurants. BB's Italian Restaurant (Devonshire Street) offers good service and the opportunity to take your own wine, whereas Pizza Express (Devonshire Street) continues the area's stainless steel theme (this is Sheffield, after all!) and offers a good selection of freshly-baked pizzas, while ASK Pizza and Pasta (Cambridge Street) is sophisticated and spacious. Less conventional restaurants include The Mad Greek (Fitzwilliam Street), which is huge and includes plate-smashing, dancing and singing, and Bistro Casablanca (Devonshire Street), which has a Continental atmosphere and a live jazz band.
Close to the Devonshire Quarter is West Street, which begins as Glossop Road and leads directly to the city centre. West Street is not quite as 21st century as the Devonshire Quarter, but it does have a very good selection of restaurants and bars and is well worth a visit. The most noticeable bar is indisputably The Cavendish (partly because it is bright yellow). The emphasis here is clearly on fun and quiz nights, comedy and karaoke are all regular features. Closer to town is Sheffield's most kitsch establishment, Flares 70's Revival Bar , which serves lunches by day and dons an afro wig by night and has an atmosphere that makes it seem more like a club. Other places worth stopping off at for a drink include the very large Edwards Bar, the very busy Foundry and Firkin and Scruffy Murphy's . West Street also has a number of popular and interesting restaurants to choose from. Two easily-confused restaurants are Que Tal? and K Pasa (both Glossop Road) as they are practically next door to one another. K Pasa is an Italian restaurant which is very lively and suitable for large parties, whereas Que Tal? offers a wide selection of Mexican, Italian and Spanish dishes.
Another street which seems to be entirely made up of restaurants and bars is Ecclesall Road. If you like Italian food, this is definitely the place to go as you will simply be spoilt for choice here. Santino's Ristorante Italiano is particularly recommended (not least because you can take your own wine and they even provide you with reading glasses if you've forgotten yours!) but Caffe Uno , The Pomona and Trattoria Romana also serve delicious food at reasonable prices. However, Ecclesall Road has not been completely colonized by Italy; Cafe Rouge is a French restaurant which is thoroughly deserving of its popularity, whereas Nonnas Cafe and Restaurant , though Italian-based, is a European-style cafe-bar which serves lovely food from the whole continent and even has a deli counter so you can buy the ingredients afterwards.
Champs Sports Bar and Restaurant is perhaps Ecclesall Road's most popular venue. Split into two sections, one side is a relaxed American restaurant while the other is a thriving bar which specializes in cocktails and is decorated with sports memorabilia. Other bars worth trying include The Slug and Fiddle , which is spacious and often has live bands and DJs playing, and The Nursery Tavern , a busy pub with a beer garden and a good reputation for food.
Although these three areas are the busiest places in Sheffield and have the most bars and restaurants per square mile, there is far more to the city than this. For example, more upmarket restaurants include Thyme (Sandygate Road), an interesting and original English restaurant, and the Mediterranean Restaurant (Sharrow Vale Road), which specializes in seafood and tapas. Other bars worth checking out include All Bar One (Leopold Street), which attracts a lively crowd of young professionals, and Empire Bar (Charter Square), with its distinctive movie-themed atmosphere. Finally, the area of Broomhill is worthy of a mention. There are a number of busy and friendly pubs here, such as The Fox and Duck and O'Neills' Irish Bar (both Fulwood Road), a recently-refurbished cafe-bar ( Hanrahans , Glossop Road) and one or two interesting places to eat out such as UK Mama .
1. The Peak District
Sheffield is on the very edge of the Peak District National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and the countryside around here is so spectacular that it would be a shame to leave Sheffield without visiting it.
If you have a car with you, or if you can get access to one, this tour is highly recommended. Otherwise, a taxi or bus from the centre of Sheffield will get you along the A57 to the outskirts of the Park.
Beginning in the City Centre, take West Street west until it becomes Glossop Road. Follow the road until it ends. Turn right onto Fulwood Road, then right 100 yards later, onto Manchester Road (the A57, signposted Glossop) which will take you out of Sheffield, through Tapton. You will be in countryside within 15 minutes, and as you go on, the landscape becomes wilder and more beautiful.
The road (also known as the Snake Pass because the snake is the logo of the Cavendish family of Chatsworth House fame, who originally built and owned the road. Snake Pass has a 60 mph speed limit. Locals will drive faster than this, but if you don't know the road, be careful; there are a number of unexpected and very sharp turns.
The Ladybower Inn (on the right hand side of the road, after about 20 minutes) makes a possible first stop if it's close to lunchtime. Take the opportunity to have a walk by the Ladybower Reservoir, and to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere among the hills. Fly fishing is available by arrangement. A series of guides to suggested walks in this area is available from the Ladybower Inn.
It wasn't always this peaceful here. Two entire villages were submerged when the reservoirs in this valley were built!
Afterwards, decide whether to:
a) Drive straight on in the direction you have been heading, for breathtaking views and (for the more athletic) walks across the open countryside and moors. If you want to walk, follow any of the many footpaths which are signposted from the road, usually close to the small car-parks which crop up on both sides. Walkers are requested to stay on footpaths until they reach a sign marking "Open Countryside". The hospitable Snake Pass Inn, a 15 minutes' drive in this direction, is surrounded by some of the most spectacular countryside in this area, and is an excellent place to recover from even the most strenuous of walks. It is so high up it can only receive Sky TV (which plays quietly in the bar). The photographs in the foyer of the winter of 1986, when snow on this road drifted to head-height, gives some indication of how wild the weather can get here!
Accommodation and standard bar food are also available here (the pub has hotel facilities with two AA stars and runs a camping barn for walkers in the summer) and this would make an extremely relaxing break if you have time to stay overnight.
b): The other option after Ladybower is to turn left, taking the A6013 across the dam. This leads through Bamford, a small farming village. At the end of this road, turn left to Hathersage, a pretty village with tea shops and pubs, which has two remarkable connections. Charlotte Bronte visited in 1845, staying in the vicarage of St Michael's and All Angels Church while visiting her schoolfriend Ellen Nussey. She based Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre on North Lees Hall, and the surrounding countryside also figures in the book. Further information on the link is available in the church.
Hathersage is also said to have links to the legendary Robin Hood of Nottingham, whose companion, Little John, is said to be buried in St Michael's churchyard. His Grave is signposted.
The church itself, which dates from 1281, is extraordinarily beautiful. A 14th century baptismal font is on display and the intricate stained glass is also well worth seeing. To reach it, continue in the direction in which you approached the village and turn left into School Lane. Take the first left, up the very steep Church Bank and follow the road round to the car park. Afterwards, the outstanding Scotsman's Pack is an excellent place to eat (or even to stay).
A stone circle and a fort are also located just outside Hathersage. Take the A625 from the village and drive for five minutes until you reach the first major car park (enticingly named "Surprise View"!) Cross the road and walk back for two to three minutes to find the path leading to the stone circle: for the fort, drive on to the next car park, another five minutes along the road.
The A6013 will take you directly back to Sheffield along Ecclesall Road within about 25 minutes. Round the day off with a stop at Champs (for American meals) or at the hugely popular Nonna's (for excellent Italian food); or for smaller meals and refreshments, try Pomona .