So my week draws to a close. I hope that you have managed to get some sense of Sheffield as a place from these posts, and discover some new music that you love along the way. I have had an absolute blast. I shall close my time as curator of this Wondrous Place by responding to Natalie Bradbury‘s question from last Friday:
“Sheffield is celebrated for its close proximity to the countryside, sitting on the edge of the Peak District. Where do you go when you want to escape the city?”
She’s right you know. From my front door I can walk to the Peak District within about half an hour, and it really is one of the things that has made me fall for this place so much. I used to live slap bang in the middle of Manchester before hopping over the hills, and have exchanged the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street for voyages along the Rivelin Valley, jaunts to Bradfield and short train journeys to Grindleford. I have fallen upon two favourite escapes from the city whilst I’ve been living here, both of which revolve around going for a nice long walk, and both of which have a cracking pub at the finish.
My current favourite trip is to go for a walk from Crookes (the lovely bit of Sheffield which I call home, and that is also home to one of the finest delis around in the shape of Urban Pantry), heading towards Manchester along Manchester Road, before diving off the beaten track, and over the hills towards the village of Bradfield. This is a really nice 7 or so mile walk, which takes in hills, villages, loads of blackberries at the moment, and affords an opportunity to visit Sheffield’s independent dairy & ice cream makers Our Cow Molly. After a wander around the Damflask Reservoir you reach The Plough in Lower Bradfield (see the image above), a delightful country pub that serves Bradfield Brewery ale (make sure to try both Plough and Farmers Blonde) and serves terrific food.
My other go-to escape route is to catch a train from Sheffield Station out to Grindleford, and wander over the hills via Wooden Pole (an actual wooden pole – see the image above) back towards Totley and Dore. Once again, this is a brilliant walk over some patches of beautiful unspoilt scenery, which offers some fantastic views back into the city, and emphasises just how close this kind of countryside is to Sheffield. The alehouse at the end of this walk is The Cricket Inn in Totley. Run under the Thornbridge Brewery banner, this place has some of the best food that I have experienced in Sheffield, and thanks to the Thornbridge link has a great knack of suggesting matched real ales to go with the delights on the plate. Well worth a visit.
With that, I believe that my work here is done, at least for the time being! This has been a really great experience, and I am hugely thankful to Chris Meads and all at Northern Spirit for inviting me to be part of this hugely interesting and stimulating project. To be placed alongside the other writers involved in ‘A Wondrous Place’ is a real honour, and I hope that we can all provide something close to a picture of what The North means to us. My personal thanks go to the people who have made me feel so welcome in Sheffield since moving over here, and given me the feelings towards the city that mean I can geniunely say I have fallen in love with the place. Of particular note are Dan, Vinnie and Daniel, Pete, Cara, Markie, Kate and everyone else who I call a friend in this great city. Without you lot being so welcoming I would probably still be pining for rain, Hydes Bitter and Eccles Cakes.
Oh, and of course one last Sheffield band for you. I have purposefully saved this one for last, as this song pretty much sums up why I, and most people I know, love the city. I give you Robberie‘s love letter to Sheffield, a song of simple beauty which I could very easily have posted on the first day and left there to do the work for me really…
Next up here are two really exciting poets and writers from Newcastle, whose work I have been pouring over since being introduced to it recently as part of this project. Amy Mackelden and Jake Campbell are collaboratively in charge next week and will be inducting the North East into A Wondrous Place. To get them started, I pose this question…
“I’m a real museum geek, and on my last trip to the North East I didn’t have any time to go exploring any museums or galleries. What are your suggestions for the best places to drop into for a bit of a mooch, especially any unexpected gems?”