One of Sheffield’s biggest attractions is its close proximity to the Peak District. Few other major industrial cities have such glorious, verdant countryside right on their doorsteps.
But actually “getting out into the Peaks” can seem a little daunting. Where to go? What to take? When to make the trip? Well, you’ve put it off long enough. Semester Two is underway and, from here on in, the weather is only going to improve.
Here, then, are my top five tips for making the most of Sheffield’s scenic surroundings.
Tip 1: Find a good route
I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for maps. For my birthday last year, I got my sister to buy me the three Ordinance Survey maps of the area. The day they came, I excitedly laid them out on my Endcliffe dining table and eagerly studied them — all fine, until my poor flatmates wanted to eat their supper.
Don’t be put off, though, if you can’t relate to my cartographic keenness. There’s loads of good routes available online. Just search ‘Sheffield Peak District walks’ and print off one of the easy-to-follow guides.
For beginners, start easy with a walk around the Ladybower Reservoir. You won’t even need a map: just follow the perimeter footpath and savour the stunning views. When you get more experienced, you can try Mam Tor (called the ‘Shivering Mountain’ because of its landslips) and Kinder Scout (the highest Peak in the District).
Tip 2: Bring a flask and a lunchbox
Being out and about is thirsty, hungry work.
All too easily you can become distracted by the landscape, and forget to eat and drink. Pack plenty of snacks, a generously-filled sandwich, and a big bottle of water. And don’t forget to make time for a lunch-stop.
Also, consider bringing a decent flask of hot coffee. Although it might seem an extra thing to carry, you’ll thank me when the biting wind pipes up!
Tip 3: Dress wisely
Be prepared for the weather to change. Even the sunniest of mornings can quickly become the wettest of afternoons.
Obviously, a waterproof jacket is essential, but also bring a fleece. Rather than one thick coat, I tend to prefer plenty of thinner layers; that way, I can simply take one off if I get too hot whilst trekking up a steep hill.
Wear walking boots if you’ve got them, or just a good pair of supporting trainers.
Tip 4: Check bus times
You can get pretty much anywhere on the bus, or get a train to Grindleford, Bamford, or Edale.
Watch out for reduced services at weekends, though. I always use Google Maps to plan my travel either side of my walk, and it’s a good idea to check the timings of the last bus back. Don’t assume there’ll be a late one — this is rural Derbyshire, not up-all-hours London.
Tip 5: Pack a camera
There’s an old saying, encouraging the ‘leave no trace’ philosophy of naturalists: “Take only photographs, leave only footprints”.
You’re in for a treat if you manage to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre, so you’ll want to snap a few pictures. Particularly at this time of year, frosty hills make for stunning Instagram shots. You’ll be the envy of your friends when they see your resulting photos!