From climbing to biking, walking to camping, outdoor brands are flocking to the city. unLTD has spoken to six success stories to find out why Sheffield is the perfect playground for their business. Words by Elizabeth Fraser. See below for links to all the articles.
With one third of the city being part of the Peak District National Park, it’s no secret that Sheffield is the perfect outdoor playground.
Boasting fantastic rolling hills, rivers and valleys it was even voted the ‘best city to live in for countryside lovers’ by BBC Countryfile in 2014.
More is spent on outdoor equipment here than anywhere else in the UK meaning that the city and surrounding areas have welcomed a full breadth of companies from high profile names like Go Outdoors, Rab, Lowe Alpine, The Climbing Works, Buffalo Systems, Beta Climbing Designs and Moon Climbing to innovative small businesses like Cotic Bikes, Airdrop Bikes and Beastmaker.
The unique combination of city and countryside has made Sheffield the perfect location for outdoor events with it being the only city to have a national park within its boundaries.
Sheffield is also known for being the spiritual home of climbing, having a great mountain bike scene and terrific running tracks and trails.
Participation in outdoor events in Sheffield is higher than the national average with events happening all over the city every weekend.
For the third year running in March Sheffield played host to The Outdoor City Weekender which promised an action-packed event full of fun and adventure.
Speaking before the event Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “The outdoor industry contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy every year, and adventure tourism is increasingly attracting visitors who crave ‘wow’ moments that they can experience and share.
“Whether you’re visiting Sheffield or are fortunate enough to call it home, we encourage everyone to discover the many opportunities to get involved with activities on our doorstep.
“From cycling and mountain biking to climbing and running – or any of the other many adventure sports available in The Outdoor City – the Weekender provides a brilliant opportunity to get inspired.
“So, after you’ve watched the world’s best compete, why not check out and see how you can take a slice of the action for yourself?
“We invite you year-round to come play in The Outdoor City – and the Weekender is the perfect place to start.”
The Weekender revolves around four headline events: the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, renowned bouldering competition the Rab Climbing Works International Festival, inner-city mountain bike dual slalom the Howard Street Dual and the Magnificent Seven, a multi-stage road bike race up seven of Sheffield’s steepest hills.
The annual Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF), presented in association with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), returns to the Showroom Cinema from 9 to 11 March. It brings the wild outdoors into the heart of the city for three days of jaw-dropping spectacle and heart-stopping adventure.
Across town, Rab Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF) sees amateur and professional climbers compete side by side at the Climbing Works on 10 and 11 March. This is a huge event on the bouldering calendar meaning it attracts big crowds but for those who can’t attend the semi-finals and finals will be streamed online.
HOWARD STREET DUEL
After the success of the inaugural Howard Street Dual last year, the dual slalom race will once again challenge the stars of the UK mountain bike scene when it returns to the city centre on Saturday 10 March.
This exhilarating dual slalom race – similar to skiing – sees riders battle head to head down a purpose-built course on Howard Street in Sheffield city centre, bringing Sheffield’s thriving mountain biking scene out of the woods and into the heart of the city.
And spectators are in for an extra treat this year as, among the impressive talent set to participate, are mountain bike legend Steve Peat and one of his most successful protégés, Craig Evans.
Craig has competed all over the world and won the hardest ever Red Bull Hardline in 2017 but Wharncliffe in Sheffield remains his favourite place to ride.
“Sheffield is cool because of the proximity of the trails to the city centre, being able to ride out to the Peak and to Wharncliffe,” he said. “There aren’t many cities where you can do that.”
Not for the fainthearted is the Magnificent Seven cycle race which will have a new base when it returns to Sheffield for the third time on Sunday 11 March.
A cross between a sportive and a hill climb, the Magnificent Seven will start and finish in Bradfield just seven miles outside the city centre to allow more entries and more space for parking.
Seven of Sheffield’s toughest ascents will be tackled by 130 cyclists – 30 more than last year – presenting each rider with over 4,200ft of climbing and inclines ranging from 9 to 23 per cent.
Event organiser Marc Etches said: “The event is unique in the UK and gives the competitors the opportunity to race up traffic-free closed roads, for which we thank Sheffield City Council.
“Professional riders are usually the only ones who get to ride on closed roads so this is a great selling point for the event, as evidenced by the veteran’s category selling out on the first day, which was amazing.
“We are really looking forward to seeing the support from local residents, especially the crowds on Hagg Hill, Blake Street and the Thrush Street cobbles. This support is fantastic for the event and much appreciated by organisers and riders alike.”
For more information on the Weekender, visit the website at www.theoutdoorcity.co.uk
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“The outdoor business sector is worth around £53million to the local economy. This includes more than 200 outdoor businesses and the highest number of climbing businesses of any major city. Our household spend on outdoor equipment is more than three times the national average, and participation rates are also higher. These figures prove that there’s a real passion for the outdoors in Sheffield and an appetite for events such as The Outdoor City Weekender, which shine a light on the amazing talent, entrepreneurs and outdoor provision that the city has to offer. The Weekender also helps us create an international profile and reputation to drive our visitor economy. Our recent successful bid to the Discover England Fund for £500,000 will help us create city breaks designed to attract international outdoor enthusiasts who love to experience outdoor adventures alongside great city culture.”